Monday, April 1, 2013

The Remnants Of Alabama High Court's Credibility Will Be Riding On Luther Strange's Recusal Petition

Judge Thomas Young
To no one's surprise, Attorney General Luther Strange has filed a petition asking the Alabama Supreme Court to force the recusal of Macon County Circuit Judge Thomas Young in the VictoryLand seizure case.

Will the state's high court grant the petition? Well, that probably depends on how the justices answer the following questions:

* Do they care about retaining what is left of their tattered credibility?

* Are they concerned about signs that they are engaging in a criminal conspiracy?

In other words, do the justices of the Alabama Supreme Court have any shame? We already know the answer to that question regarding Luther Strange. He is one of the most shameless judge shoppers in the history of the American justice system.

Strange proved that last week when he filed a petition for a writ of mandamus that would force Judge Young off the VictoryLand case. That comes on the heels of Young's denial of a search warrant application from Strange's office, a Supreme Court writ forcing Young to approve the search warrant on VictoryLand property, and Young's refusal to recuse himself from the case.

How ironic is all of this? Strange's office, in a similar case involving the Center Stage facility in Houston County, has been fighting to make sure Circuit Judge Mike Conaway does NOT recuse himself. What's the difference between Judge Conaway and Judge Young? Former Governor Bob Riley, one of Strange's close Republican allies and an avowed gaming opponent, appointed Conaway to the bench. Sonny Reagan, who now is Strange's chief lieutenant in the attorney general's office, interviewed Conaway for the judicial position while serving in the Riley administration.

Translation: Mike Conaway is a friendly judge for Luther Strange; in fact, a reasonable observer could find plenty of grounds to question Conaway's impartiality in the Center Stage case. But the Supreme Court has allowed him to stay on board.

Meanwhile, we've seen no sign that Judge Young is biased toward one party or another, but he did refuse to rubber stamp a search warrant for the attorney general's office, on the grounds that he could find no probable cause that criminal acts were being committed at VictoryLand. Still, Luther Strange wants Young off the case, and few observers will be surprised of the high court sides with the AG.

The irony of all this has not gone unnoticed in Houston County, even in the mainstream media. In a piece titled "Tables turned in Macon County judge bingo battle," Dothan Eagle reporter Lance Griffin writes:

According to court documents, the Attorney General argues that Young’s refusal to sign a search warrant for the VictoryLand raid, his initial reluctance to sign the warrant after being ordered to do so by the Alabama Supreme Court, and written comments placed on the warrant itself indicate a bias against the state.

“On the face of the search warrant, Judge Young wrote that he was signing with ‘the greatest judicial reluctance’ and ‘did not believe that (the) application for search warrant provides sufficient probable cause.’ He ended his note by declaring the State’s case and the Supreme Court’s order was ‘improper according to the law,’” the Attorney General states in his motion for Young’s recusal. 
The motion goes on to allege Young made statements to investigators that questioned the Attorney General’s motives for obtaining the warrant.

None of that, of course, proves bias or "the appearance of impropriety" on Young's part. The judge's comments only show that (a) He disagrees with the AG's contentions that probable cause exists in the VictoryLand matter--a reasonable finding given that no court has found the facility's electronic-bingo machines to be illegal; (b) He believes the state's high court is setting a dangerous precedent by issuing an "extraordinary writ" to override the ruling of a local judge.

If the Alabama Supreme Court's actions in the Center Stage case mean anything, its ruling on the VictoryLand matter should be a no-brainer. Last December, the high court denied a petition from the Houston Economic Development Association (HEDA) to have Conaway removed from the Center Stage case; in fact, Conaway is expected to rule soon on motions involving the seizure of cash and machines at the casino near Dothan.

How did the Supreme Court deal with efforts to get Conaway off the case in Houston County? It simply declined to hear the appeal, with no explanation.

For the sake of consistency, we should expect to see the high court act the same way in the Macon County matter, right? A reasonable person should expect a decision stating that the court declines to hear the appeal, offering no explanation and leaving Young on the case, right?

Well, yes . . . if the court cares about maintaining some semblance of credibility with the public. But we've signs that court doesn't care one iota what the public thinks. It's main interest seems to be serving the interests of its political soul mates, such as Luther Strange and Bob Riley.

As for the possibility, however slim, that the court might get nabbed in a criminal conspiracy . . . we doubt the justices are concerned about that, either. But the public should be concerned about it--and a ruling that forces Judge Young off the Macon County case will add to the mounting evidence that something smells mighty foul with the Alabama Supreme Court.

We will address that issue in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

Classic Luther. He can't get his way with an honest judge in Macon County, so he turns to his buddies on the Supreme Court who have been bought with Jack Abramoff gaming cash. Sweet.

Raymond said...

I'm betting the Alabama Supreme Court boots Young off the case.

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't MSM covered - al all - the story of Luther Strange having an out of wedlock son whose mother now works for Poarch Creek Gaming ally RSLC? This is not irrelevant. Espy should get a deposition of Luther, the RSLC head, and GF Jessica Medeiros Garrison.

Anonymous said...

I hear there was an extra tall Easter Bunny at Jessica's house on Sunday. He was being VERY careful with her "eggs" THIS time . . . .

Anonymous said...

So the Alabama Supreme Court declined to hear the petition for recusal from the Houston County economic development folks, but it's going to hear Luther Strange's petition for Macon County? Stinks to high heaven! Luther's motion should be DOA!

Anonymous said...

An extra tall Easter Bunny? Hah, what a scream, @7:24. I needed an LOL to get started on a Monday morning.

Gerry with a G said...

Is Chief Justice Roy Moore going to go along with this scam? I thought he was somehow supposed to be different from the corporate clowns on the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

Look at this. Mike Hubbard's henchman Josh Blades - who earlier threatened Tripp Pittman and Dick Brewbaker over the Switch Bill - has literally approached Phillip Kinney (who lobbies for the Poarch Creeks) and told them in no uncertain terms to all their advertisng off Bill Britt's page:

The question is begged: WHY would Hubbard have the pull with the Poarch Creeks to get them to do what he demands?

legalschnauzer said...

I would say that Bill Britt and his wife have solid grounds for a tortious interference lawsuit against Speaker Hubbard, Josh Blades, and anyone else who has unlawfully interfered with their business activities.

Anonymous said...

Does Young have to respond to Luther's petition? If not, I think the judge would be wise to just stay quiet on the matter. Last time, the Supreme Court did nothing but use his words against him.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 10:52--

Young does not have to reply to the petition. Rule 21(b) of the Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure states:

"If the judge or judges named respondents do not desire to appear in the proceeding, they may so advise the clerk and all parties by letter, but the petition shall not thereby be taken as admitted."

I agree that Young would be wise to lay low on this. His words mean nothing to the Supreme Court anyway, so why bother responding?

Anonymous said...

Press Release You Will NEVER See: "AG Strange Looks to Curb Illigitimate Birth Rate"

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 11:47--

. . . tears of laughter rolling down face.

A classic.

Molli said...

Not to mention Roy Moore made a public statement giving high praises to Luther Strange's effort as it relates to gambling. If they have the impropriety to even hear this case Moore must recuse himself.

Mr. Schnauzer I am so glad you are telling this story. Mainstream media is refusing to print the contradiction of Luther's stance on the Houston v Macon recusal requests. The only place it can be read is in the on-line comments of their canned article. Luther's obvious judge shopping is all so apparent in this scenario. Trust me if the SC sides with Luther (which is likely) Luther and Sonny's first move will be a motion for a change of venue. The new location will house another one of mobster don Bob Riley's favorite and most probably unqualified judge buddies.

After reading Britts letter it is clear MSM is scared to write anything other than canned propaganda.

legalschnauzer said...


I hadn't thought about a claim for change of venue, but I bet you are right. Under the law, I can't imagine there would be grounds for that. But that never seems to matter with high court. Roy Moore is a sap if he believes Luther Strange is doing this because he's morally opposed to gambling.