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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Strange Seeks Sanctions Against Macon Co. Residents For Bringing Lawsuit Under U.S. Voting Rights Act


Luther Strange
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is seeking sanctions against Macon County plaintiffs and attorneys who filed a federal lawsuit claiming his raids on the VictoryLand casino constitute a violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

In a motion filed June 5, Strange says the lawsuit against him and Governor Robert Bentley is frivolous, has no support in the law, and was filed for purposes of harassment. Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) gives courts the authority to impose sanctions on parties, lawyers, or both under certain circumstances. (See motion for sanctions at the end of this post.)


Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford and other plaintiffs say their case is solidly grounded in fact and law. They claim Strange has caused "economic devastation" in Macon County by closing the VictoryLand casino during a February raid, seizing 1,600 electronic-bingo machines and more than $220,000 in cash. Plaintiffs also claim that Bentley's executive order, appointing Strange to enforce gambling laws in all 67 counties, usurped the authority of the Macon County sheriff and violated residents' voting rights.


Donald LaRoche, plaintiff's' attorney from Brockton, Massachusetts, said the motion for sanctions is a continuation of intimidation tactics that Strange has employed since the lawsuit was filed. Strange contends that a U.S. Supreme Court case styled Presley v. Etowah County Commission, 502 U.S. 491 (1992) precludes the plaintiffs' claims. But LaRoche argues otherwise, and in a response to the Rule 11 motion, he states:



On behalf of the plaintiffs, I have previously responded to your Rule 11 letter and our position has not changed: Presley is inapplicable here and the Attorney General's actions are a violation of federal law, which we intend to prove at trial after engaging in wide-ranging discovery permitted by the federal rules of civil procedure.

Are the words in bold above driving Luther Strange's motion for sanctions? Is he pulling out some questionable ethical stops in an effort to avoid the kind of "wide-ranging discovery" that could reveal the real reasons he and former GOP Governor Bob Riley launched a crusade against non-Indian gaming that now has lasted five years . . . and counting?


This much seems clear: Strange has been much more antagonistic than Bentley in attacking the lawsuit; we've seen nothing in the record that indicates Bentley has joined in the motion for sanctions. Is that because Bentley has no record of taking campaign cash from Indian gaming interests, such as the Alabama Poarch Creeks (Strange) and the Mississippi Choctaws (Riley)? Is that because Bentley has made no overt efforts to protect market share for Indian gaming by raiding and trying to close non-Indian facilities?


Here perhaps is the gist of Strange's argument for sanctions:



Plaintiffs are . . . without legal basis when they allege that the Defendants have effected a “de facto” replacement of the Macon County Sheriff.  . . . Plaintiffs do not and cannot allege that the sheriff is no longer in office or has been deprived of all the powers of a sheriff. All Plaintiffs allege is that other executive-branch officials, and the Justices of a unanimous Alabama Supreme Court, have determined that the sheriff misinterpreted Alabama’s gambling laws when he publicly announced that the machines at issue were legal. . . . That was not even a “transfer of decision-making power” between state officials for the purposes of the Voting Rights Act. . . .  But in any event, Presley holds that even when a State transfers power between officials, the State will not be deemed to have engaged in a de facto replacement of the official who lost power so long as that official “retains substantial authority. . . ." Plaintiffs do not allege that the Macon County sheriff no longer has substantial authority. Plaintiffs’ Voting Rights Act claims are thus frivolous as a matter of law.

Is it possible that Strange will prevail on the voting-rights argument? Yes, it is. Does that mean that plaintiffs' claims are frivolous? No, it does not--and Strange's motion makes no citation to law that supports its contention that the lawsuit is frivolous.

The Macon County plaintiffs do not rely on the Voting Rights Act alone. They also raise civil-rights claims of purposeful discrimination and fundamental unfairness. 


Is Strange, in his motion for sanctions, playing loose with the facts? Consider the first section in bold above. It states that the Alabama Supreme Court has determined that the sheriff of Macon County "misinterpreted Alabama's gambling laws when he publicly announced that the machines at issue were legal."


When did the Alabama Supreme Court make such a determination? What was the case, and when was it decided? If our state's highest court actually has made such a determination, it has escaped my attention--and apparently that of the Macon County plaintiffs.


Is Strange playing loose with the relevant law here? Consider the second section in bold above. Strange argues that Presley holds there is no de facto replacement of a public official as long as the official retains substantial authority. But that's not what Presley says. Here is what it does say:


We need not consider here whether an otherwise uncovered enactment of a jurisdiction subject to the Voting Rights Act might under some circumstances rise to the level of a de facto replacement of an elective office with an appointive one, within the rule of Bunton v. Patterson. For present purposes it suffices to note that the Russell County Commission retains substantial authority, including the power to appoint the county engineer and to set his or her budget. The change at issue in Russell County is not a covered change.

The Supreme Court issued a limited ruling in Presley. It said that the changes in Presley were not covered by the Voting Rights Act, but it said circumstances in future cases might rise to the level that would require preclearance under the act. The court declined to offer a "bright line rule" that would guide public officials in future cases. It simply said that the circumstances in Presley did not amount to a covered change.

In other words, Strange is hanging his legal hat on pretty weak stuff when he relies on Presley because it offers little in the way of precedent. The Supreme Court did in Presley pretty much what it would do eight years later in Bush v. Gore, which decided the 2000 presidential election. On that occasion, the court said (in so many words), "Here is our finding in this case, under these circumstances, but it is not to be used as guidance in future cases."

The Macon County plaintiffs claim that the usurpation of their sheriff's powers goes way beyond that described in Presley. And they claim discovery will prove that Strange and Bentley violated federal law.


Strange clearly disagrees with the plaintiffs' claims, but that does not mean they are frivolous--and Strange cites no authority to support his contention that they are frivolous.


That could cause a reasonable observer to conclude that Luther Strange wants no part of a discovery process in the Macon County lawsuit.



26 comments:

Anonymous said...

The reason the ironically-nicknamed "Big" Luther is concerned about discovery is that HE fears sanctions - from his wife and Jessica's cuckolded ex-husband.

Mainstream media knows about Luther's "second family" BTW. And about his manueverings to "get rid" of his adultery/wife stealing/conflict of interest/legal problems. And they do not say word one for fear of losing the few advertisers they have left. Blogs like this one are the only things bringing any truth to political-minded readers.

Robby Scott Hill said...

One would think that after 60 years of this shit, the State of Alabama would stop fucking with Black People, Poor People & Women who need abortions among other things, but our state officials continue to double down on the Ku Klux Klan way of doing business.

Anonymous said...

Another fine job LS.

Interesting to note that Gov. Bently doesn't want to get tied up in the mess that Big Luther and Riley has created. Do you think the house of cards is about to fall if Mr. Ford continues with the lawsuit? Also, based on the Constitution Amendment vs State Statues decision, how will he weasle out of that? Whomever is counseling Strange better start getting their ducks in a row. Same goes for the Supreme Court of Alabama.

Anonymous said...

Luther's not very subtle is he? Just a big, white bully, with nice ties to the lobbying/legal underworld. He has no genuine qualifications to even be attorney general.

Anonymous said...

Your comment certainly grabbed my attention, @6:50. Can you share more about the MSM's knowledge of Luther's second family? And what kind of manueverings has he done to fix his "adultery/wife stealing/conflict of interest/legal problems"?

I have an inquiring mind, and I'm dying to know more.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 8:55--

I think Luther has big problems if the Macon County lawsuit gets to discovery. But the federal judiciary in Alabama is outrageously corrupt, and I would not be surprised to see the case dismissed without discovery. I don't think that can be done under the law, but federal judges violate the law all the time--and the Eleventh Circuit isn't likely to make the trial judge get it right. Hope Johnny Ford & Co. have an honest trial judge, but it's a real crap shoot. Short answer, in my view: Judicial corruption is the best way for Luther to weasel out of this one.

Anonymous said...

@6:50,

So, Luther's trying the old "threaten the advertisers" trick with the MSM. Hah! Isn't that the same thing Mike Hubbard has tried with Bill Britt?

Sharon said...

Bob Riley has managed not to testify under oath for all of these years. Maybe Luther Strange will be the one who winds up cracking?

Anonymous said...

As someone with a little legal education, I can't wait for Johnny Ford and his lawyers to file their "requests for production of documents." My guess is that they will be seeking e-mail and phone records for Luther, his staff, and associates (perhaps including young Ms. Garrison). Might seek banking recods. That should be more interesting than depositions. A snake like Big Luther will have no problem lying under oath in a depo. But the rubber really meets the road with requests for production of documents.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me that Luther's motion for sanctions is frivolous. Maybe he needs to be sanctioned for filing it.

Anonymous said...

Joel Dubina and Bill Pryor, two Alabama natives on the 11th circuit, will help Luther get out of harm's way. They are crooks, and they protect their own.

Anonymous said...

Excellent reporting as usual LS. Frivolous suits are filed against the AGs office routinely (I assume). The cases play out in court and the AG does not worry about them. He is so flipping worried about this case because this is the one that will expose him and his kiss-Riley's-ass actions.

Coyote Lane said...

INTERROGATORIES.

No doubt this has already happened and the interrogatories are not in the court files, too damn bad.

LOVE you Robby Scott Hill, you use that naughty word "F" bomb!

KKK, yes across this nation is the KKK and whatever cult can be set up behind scenes to keep America as backwards as we now know in the year 2013.

The POLICE RUN the drugs for the so called 'Congresses' and then the SPY Snowden: SNOWJOB.

Right on cue we get one too good to be true ah hah moment of our turning point of no return here.

Just imagine how bad we would all be at this time, should not LEGAL SCHNAUZER FAMILY have not been born under our lucky star!

Anonymous said...

Isn't SCOTUS supposed to decided Shelby Co v. Holder any day now? How ironic that this Macon County case is boiling just beneath the surface as that case is getting national attention.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, I think a lot of court watchers thought the Shelby County ruling might come last week.

Anonymous said...

LS, did you really have to bring up Bush v. Gore? Think I'm going to be sick. Might have to go hang my head over toilet . . .

Anonymous said...

Here is the most interesting part of the Presley decision from 1992. Notice who voted how on SCOTUS 20 years ago:

"KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and O'CONNOR, SCALIA, SOUTER, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which WHITE and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined."

The right-wing scoundrels ramrodded this case, although I'm not sure why Souter joined them. You are right, LS. This was a precursor to Bush v. Gore.

Anonymous said...

That Presley case must have been one of the first SCOTUS cases Clarence Thomas heard.

Anonymous said...

Good God, look at who pushed that Presley case through--Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, O'Connor . . .

This case was on the leading edge of the right-wing cabal that has taken over the Supreme Court--the cabal that made George W. Bush president.

This is scary, scary stuff.

Anonymous said...

MSM has been provided with solid documentation of Luther Strange's affair/conflict of interest and the resulting attempts at cover-up and the huge conflicts of interest and inappropriate relationships - political and personal - involved. To date they have done nothing except ignore the story that they undoubtedly know about.

Anonymous said...

If Bob Woodward worked at al.com he would be fired the second that Josh Blades approached their advertisers.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 11:30--

I would be glad to have a copy of such documentation regarding Luther Strange's conflicts etc. I already have quite a bit of documentation, and a series of posts is in the works. But I welcome any and all material that might be relevant. As you can tell from reading my blog, I don't answer to Josh Blades and advertisers.

David in S. Alabama said...

In the caseTruth v. Strange didn't the court hold the one elected official shall not substitute his judgment for that of another elected official. It also held that it is a violation of Alabama matrimonial statute for the Attorney General to fornicate with a woman who is not his wife.

e.a.f. said...

Nice column!

Not unreasonable Luther Strange is living up to his last name. Filing the latest suit smacks of despiration or something along those lines. Maybe he is simply trying to frighten the opposition. However, I doubt if the mayor and/or sherriff of Macom county are about to back down.

David in S. Alabama are you joking or is it really law that "it is a violation of Alabama matrimonial statute for the A. G. to fornicate with a woman who is not his wife." I know some states have all sorts of funny old laws. I just wanted to check. You see in British Columbia, Canada anybody can fornicate with anybody and nobody much pays attention. We don't have laws about it.

Anonymous said...

Eaf, anal sex and blow jobs are illegal in many states too. We are just prudes here in the good ol US of A.

Verla said...

This is cool!