Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Constitutional Amendment Trumps A State Statute, So Luther Strange's Bingo Crusade Has No Legs

Milton McGregor at
VictoryLand casino
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has created a controversy about electronic-bingo in Macon County where no controversy exists, under the law.

The electronic-bingo machines at VictoryLand are legal, and we can say that with certainty because of a simple provision of law that might best be stated as follows: The constitution trumps a state statute.

Most students probably learn that on about the third day of law school. Luther Strange and his associates must have been absent that day because they persist in challenging a legal concept that is impervious to challenge. Former Governor Bob Riley and his legal advisers also must have been out of the loop because they spent the last two years of his administration (2008-10) conducting groundless legal actions against bingo facilities that cost taxpayers an estimated $4 million.

Strange has picked up where Riley left off, but as someone with a law degree, the attorney general should know the multiple anti-bingo raids of the past five years or so have no basis in law.

Here is how the legal argument stands at the moment: Strange repeatedly has claimed in court documents that the machines at VictoryLand meet the definition of an illegal slot machine under state law. An Alabama Supreme Court ruling from earlier this year quoted one of Strange's staff members making this argument in an affidavit seeking a search warrant to raid VictoryLand. Here is language straight from the affidavit:

Based upon my experience and understanding of [§] 13A-12-20(10), [Ala. Code 1975,] each machine observed . . .  at the Casino met the definition of a slot machine.

The second prong of Strange's primary claim argues that the VictoryLand machines constitute illegal gambling devices under state law. Again, quoting from the affidavit:

Furthermore, it is my opinion the machines inside the Casino fit the description of a Gambling Device as outlined in [§] 13A-12-20(5) [, Ala. Code 1975].

As you can see, the Strange argument is built on two provisions from the Code of Alabama, which is statutory law. But VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor and his lawyers make the following fundamental argument: "Amendment 744 to the Alabama Constitution specifically permits bingo in Macon County and does not limit the forms of bingo which may be operated."

A plain reading of Amendment 744 shows that the McGregor team is correct, with the sheriff designated to "promulgate rules and regulations for the licensing and operation of bingo games within the county." Nowhere is a role designated for the attorney general--or the governor, for that matter--to determine what forms of bingo can be played in Macon County.

Perhaps McGregor's strongest argument, however, comes from a simple legal concept that is spelled out across Alabama state law. Here is one way to put it: If a conflict exists between a state statute and a constitutional amendment, the Alabama Supreme Court has held that the constitutional amendment controls and takes precedence over the statute.

In other words, the constitution trumps a statute. And a case styled Chorba-Lee Scholarship Fund Inc., et al v. Sheriff Mike Hale, et al, 60 So. 3d 279 (2010) is one of many cases that spell it out:

'Undeniably, the legislature cannot enact a statute that conflicts with the Constitution, that is, that prohibits that which is permitted by the Constitution or that permits that which is prohibited by the Constitution.'" Opinion of the Justices No. 373, 795 So.2d 630, 632 (Ala.2001) (quoting City of Birmingham v. Graffeo, 551 So.2d 357, 361-62 (Ala. 1989)).

If no genuine controversy exists regarding electronic bingo in Macon County, why has Luther Strange started one? Why did former Governor Bob Riley, before Strange, start a crusade against non-Indian gaming that largely was not based in the law? It has been widely reported that Strange and Riley have received campaign support from Indian gaming interests--the Choctaws in Mississippi and the Poarch Creeks in Alabama--so a reasonable citizen might figure that the bogus controversy was generated for political purposes that have nothing to do with the law.

When Strange protested the issuance of a liquor license late last year at the VictoryLand casino, McGregor attorneys Joe Espy and John M. Bolton filed a response that put the attack on non-Indian gaming in perspective:

Perhaps General Strange believes the ends justify the means when it comes to non-Indian gaming. It is clear that the concerted and illegal attacks a former Governor and General Strange made on VictoryLand and others have benefited the Indian casino operators who have lavished campaign cash on them. For example, the Poarch Creek casinos, who have a tax-free monopoly in Alabama, have experienced the fastest growth in revenues of any Native American casino in the United States--a staggering 61%--while revenues at Indian gaming facilities decreased nationwide. In fact, on July 11, 2012, the Poarch Creek Indians announced a $246 million expansion project at its Creek Casino Riverside in Wetumpka. And the Choctaws opened a new casino in Mississippi near the Alabama border in December 2012 after VictoryLand ceased operating electronic bingo games. 
We cannot be sure whether General Strange's "protest" is part of his ongoing effort to block non-Indian casinos from operating legal games in Alabama, if it is merely a public relations stunt to give the impression that he is acting in the manner desired by his mentor (Bob Riley) and Native American benefactors, of if it is intended to promote his future political aspirations. What is clear is that . . . there is no legal basis for considering his request.

The bottom line? Given the simple holding that a constitutional amendment trumps a state statute, it's hard to see legal justification for the actions Strange and Riley have taken toward non-Indian gaming in Alabama. That suggests they have been playing games with the people of Alabama, using our tax dollars to  promote their political aspirations. How long will citizens continue to tolerate it? 


Anonymous said...

Luther is kinda busy right now dodging DNA checkpoints . . . .

Anonymous said...

"Luther Strange has created a controversy where no controversy exists."

That says it all, LS.

Anonymous said...

Best explanation I've seen of the legal issues surrounding the Riley/Strange bingo raids. Thank you, sir.

Gerry with a G said...

Maybe there is finally something positive to be said about the Alabama Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Luther has no clothes . . . he also has no case.

Anonymous said...

I've long heard that Luther really is a lobbyist, not a lawyer--that his background in the law is extremely shallow. I guess this proves it.

Anonymous said...

If this is so simple, why has it turned into such a brouhaha?

Anonymous said...

Hell is empty and all the devils are here, Shakespeare

LS, the cosmic giggle is you got fired from the corporate establishment for reporting real news. Now you've kept Alabama in the genuine news, and the people get to know what the Samuel I. Newhouse no information on purpose tried to force as the iron curtain AL.

The mainstream 'news' is either in on the gaming con or there would be a great streaming of this just like the other important stuff: 911.

Murphy Schnauzer Shuler, you top blue ribbon pedigree!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if Riley and his allies don't stop nonIndian casinos, the Indians will start releasing documents implicating Riley and his allies going back to 2002 or so . . . .

Anonymous said...

... As the US government provides for about 99% of revenue for Virginia-based firm, Booz Allen is now struggling to distance itself from its employee.

"News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm," Booz Allen said in a statement issued Sunday night.

SNOWDEN is also a hero LS, just as you.


Jeffrey Spruill, Virginia is deep into the IT, as you know.

And the electronic digital game cheating has to also be owned by the greatest criminals that do what they are told for 'Wall Street' and ITS' 'game global BINGO derivatives'

The stock market crash in the global military killing machine scares the hell out of the 'Justices' from top to bottom and every criminal in the between.

They worship Strange and Riley for keeping the machine well oiled for the new world order.

Anonymous said...

It makes perfect sense that the constitution would trump a statute. After all, the constitution provides the foundation for all law in Alabama. Why can't Luther Strange and Bob Riley grasp such an elemental concept?

Anonymous said...

Riley barks orders, Luther responds. IMHO an organized crime family exists in Alabama and they are two of the key figures.

Redeye said...

How long will citizens continue to tolerate it? You ask? First they have to know about it. The citizens don't know what they don't know.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 9:46--

Your point is well taken. If Riley/Strange are part of an organized crime family, it almost certainly involves the Bradley Arant law firm. They both have entrenched ties to that august firm.

Molli said...

If politicians had a problem with electronic bingo they would not have passed the Macon County amendment in the early 2000's WITHOUT ONE DISSENTING VOTE! The House and Senate absolutely discussed and knew the bill referred to electronic bingo machines and was not intended to refer to "traditional bingo" played on paper cards with a bingo caller (as they try to lean on these days to support their assault on McGregor). Victoryland operated for years without incident or complaint from the Alabama government. Heck Bob Riley even signed a certificate of appreciation presented to Victoryland: "Tourism in Alabama expenditures has increased 84% over the ten-year period from 1997-2007. You have greatly contributed to the tremendous growth and success of the Tourism Industry in Alabama...".

This illegal assault is nothing more than personal vendettas (McGregor has what Riley wants) and payoff actions owed to the Indian casinos.

Riley and Hubbard are behind the law change to allow a resort/convention center to be built on the gulf shore beaches. Bob Riley and Susan Hubbard (speaker's wife) have been pursuing this venture for many years. Bet your bottom dollar once they own that property the gambling laws will change and they will finally have their Monte Carlo.

legalschnauzer said...


Thanks for an insightful comment. I've heard from a number of solid sources that Rob Riley and certain associates have a long-term plan to take over gambling in Alabama--and that's why they want McGregor out of the way. That might also be why they saw Ronnie Gilley as a threat. Rob Riley has been up to his neck in gambling for years, including his association with Paragon Gaming.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Bradley Arant, can't any of their high-priced lawyers educate Luther about the actual law on this? Oh wait, Bradley Arant made tons of money from the Riley bingo crusade and probably stands to make more in the future.

Molli said...

LS, you are correct. Rob Riley's ventures in gaming are overwhelming. What a sick family.

Unknown said...


~Monte Carlo~


Morons. 'Americans' involved in this time of collapsing the USA are complete and utter morons.

CHINESE were the BIG PRIZE, GAMBLERS extraordinaire.

Book "Predatory Bender" tells the whole story about how we were and are, to be the 'creditor predators' for any and all 'gamblers' which are being manufactured by the fake news every moment of electronic flickering in our lives.

Sheldon billionaire in Nevada showed the criminals how to get what is wanted - gambling is an addiction that is of course 'lawful', just like cigarettes with so many chemicals, the last an opium mist on the paper as a 'slow burn' first hit tick of a cocaine fire on the tongue, so to speak. Gambling is a HOPE addiction and Obama was too.

Anonymous said...

Check out the stock market. That is our clue as to whether or not we can expect martial law again, worse than Boston. Watch the stock market.

As the WAR MACHINE collapses, that would be the money from Fed Gov cannot keep the dark secrets from floating to the top of the scum of pond ~ insects crawling to die and how wonderful to watch Feinstein talk of TREASON. Oh the BLOB and ITS' vileness.

Anonymous said...

Bradley Arant?


"Tried week-long multi-million construction dispute in Poarch Band of Creek Indian Tribal Court."

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for URL to Anne Marie Seibel bio. Here is more info from her bio:

"Anne Marie’s practice involves various forms of complex litigation. For example, she has served as counsel to HealthSouth Corporation in wide-ranging litigation related to the corporate fraud committed by some of the company’s former insiders. As part of those cases, she was a member of the teams who secured a $2.8 billion verdict against the company’s former CEO, Richard Scrushy, and a $100 million settlement with the company’s former investment bank."

Rob Riley was heavily involved on the federal side in the HealthSouth/Scrushy matter.

Anonymous said...

what an image the SOUTH is in the current history reports, and to look backwards in time at the same place is to truly wonder what is going to be in the future coming

the USA is scary

David in S. Alabama said...

Everything Big Luther knows about the Constitution of Alabama will fit under the little pinkie toe tail on his girlfriend's right foot.

Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, CARNAC the Magnificent!

Answer: Little blue pills, some "Barney and Friends" videos, some "Curious George" books, some anti-stress medication, a fifth of Jack Daniels', and several hundred thousand dollars in crisp unmarked bills with a binder from an Indian casino.

Question: What exactly is in Luther Strange's briefcase?

legalschnauzer said...

Welcome, Carnac! It's an honor to have such a distinguished guest, especially one who is so mysterious, from the East and all.

Your divine powers still are awesome after all these years. You made me LOL, for sure. Hope things are well with your camel.

Anonymous said...

I used to love how Johnny Carson would come out as "Carnac" without changing ANYTHING - no funny accent, no attempt to get into "character" - just sit there wearing a turban and do the routine essentially as himself.

Robby Scott Hill said...

Taking casino jobs in a predominately Black county is Invisible Empire behavior. Scottish Rite Masons like Bob Riley & Major General Mark Bowen, ALNG, gave birth to the Klan to do the dirty work of the Masonic Lodge leadership. Whenever too many Mulattoes like Barack Obama & Eric Holder climb the corporate ladder and gain political office, the Klan manages to reappear to restore White Power. Want to be a Klansman? Join a hunting club and ask a Mason.

Anonymous said...

CARNAC & Robby Scott Hill & LS et al

what a show, Alabama can't compete with the magic here!

now to make that camel get up into that eye of the needle

so simple so very very simple

Anonymous said...


Digital Blackwater Rules: The NSA Black Box in a Black Hole, By Pepe Escobar

The US is a Police State
Review of Andrew Kolin, State Power and Democracy, By Prof. John McMurtry


Anonymous said...

Another fine job LS.

Doesn't all of this put a black on the Alabama Supreme Court? Looks like they should have stopped this at the very beginning. Goes to show you that they were in Riley and Strange back pocket all along.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, it definitely puts a black mark on the AL Supreme Court, which already was covered with black marks. It also shows there was no probable cause for the search warrant, so the Macon County judge was right to deny the application--even though he did not use the "constitution trumps statute" reasoning.

Anonymous said...

Ladies and gentlemen once again CARNAK the MAGNIFICENT!

Answer: Dean Young, Kay Ivey, and Jessica Mederios Garrison.

Question: A loser, a boozer, and Luther Strange screws her . . .

legalschnauzer said...

Carnac is on a roll!

Possible Carnac response if Luther Strange does not find this amusing:

"May a diseased yak fondle your sister."

Robby Scott Hill said...

May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the crotches of their heathen mistresses.

Carnac said...

Answer: Gibraltar, LeBron James, and Luther Strange . . .

Name a rock, a jock, and a crock.

Anonymous said...

The use of tax dollars for the raids, etc., wouldn't that constitute the misuse of tax dollars? And shouldn't Riley and now Strange be held liable?

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, it certainly constitutes misuse of tax dollars. Is that a crime? Not sure what statute would apply, but an aggressive/competent prosecutor could make it work. Unfortunately, we have Eric Holder's DOJ, so you can forget a competent prosecution on this matter.

e.a.f. said...

How long will this all go on? As long as Luther is in office. Some times politicians know very well what the law is, they just choose to ignore it and do what works for them and theirs.

For the non First Nations gambling entitlies, who are subjected to pressure, they have to spent a lot of money to keep in business. it signals to others, stay out.

As to the cost to Alabama taxpayers, certainly Luther and his budddies don't care, its not their money. They don't care about the money. They don't care about they law. They just care that they can do what they want. Until Alabama voters rid themselves of Luther and his like minded lemmings, nothing will change.

Thank you Legal S. for bringing this information forward.

Anonymous said...

Are you joking or are you seriously this naive and uninformed? Not about money? Surely you jest!!!!!

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 5:28--

I think you misread e.a.f.'s comment. He's not saying people like Luther Strange don't care about money in general. He's saying Luther doesn't care about the money that is spent to bring these bogus legal actions. Luther is playing with our taxpayer dollars, not his own money, so he doesn't care about that money. I'm pretty sure that is e.a.f.'s point, and I think it's right on target.

Anonymous said...

If you two think that Lerch is not getting money other than his salary for all that he's pulling, you need to think again!!!!!!!