Monday, November 24, 2014

Bob Riley relied on Bryan Taylor's dubious legal opinion to launch a jihad against e-bingo in Alabama

Bryan Taylor
An opinion from a young staff attorney for former Alabama Governor Bob Riley set the foundation for raids over the past six years at non-Indian electronic-bingo casinos in Alabama.

The young attorney's name was Bryan Taylor, and he went on to become a state senator from Prattville. Did Taylor have any expertise on gaming or the constitutional issues that surround it? The answer appears to be no. Was Taylor's analysis on target? Quite a few knowledgeable individuals apparently do not think so.

Based on some of his most recent legal handiwork, Taylor's abilities as a lawyer might be described as questionable, at best. We are referring to a defamation lawsuit Taylor recently filed against the Alabama Political Reporter (APR) Web site and its editors, Bill and Susan Britt. We already have shown that Taylor, as a public official, has almost no chance to win such a case, under the law. That he filed it anyway means the Britts might have a valid counterclaim for abuse of process--and they also might have grounds to seek costs under the Alabama Litigation Accountability Act.

Why would Riley spend millions of taxpayer dollars to attack facilities--in many instances, they had operated legally under constitutional amendments for roughly five years--based on Bryan Taylor's word? Was Bob Riley a rotten steward of public funds?

Those are just a few of the troubling questions raised by Josh Moon's recent investigative article for the Montgomery Advertiser. Here is how Moon describes Taylor's role in Bob Riley's crusade against bingo at non-Indian facilities:

Riley said a visit from state Sen. Charles Bishop, who complained about fly-by-night bingo parlors opening in Walker County, prompted him to assign a young staff attorney, Bryan Taylor, to look into the legality of it all. 
Taylor returned a few days later with a message that Riley said surprised him: "(Taylor) says, 'they're all illegal — all of them.' "

Taylor explained that a 2006 Alabama Supreme Court ruling, which prevented electronic bingo games to be played in Birmingham, included a broad definition of the term "slot machines" that was first presented by former Justice Sue Bell Cobb in 1997. That definition essentially states that when a constitutional amendment fails to define the term "bingo," then it means the "ordinary game of bingo."

Did Taylor have it right? Not necessarily, according to Moon:

Many believe it was a bit of a stretch, since the ruling in that 1997 case also made it clear that an amendment and its intentions could alter the definition of bingo. But Taylor said the basis of the argument was formed: "The court was saying that it was less about form and more about substance. If it looks like a slot machine and acts like a slot machine, it's a slot machine."

It's not clear exactly to which 2006 case Taylor is referring. Our research indicates the most likely case is styled Barber v. Jefferson County Racing Association, 960 So. 2d 599 (Ala. Sup. Ct., 2006). We can find no information in that ruling that would support what Taylor allegedly told Riley--that all bingo facilities in the state are illegal. If there is another 2006 opinion that supports Taylor's analysis, we haven't found it yet.

Was Bryan Taylor the only lawyer who came to the conclusion that e-bingo was illegal throughout the state? Nope. A major Birmingham law firm also came to that conclusion--not long after it had proclaimed e-bingo machines at one of the state's best-known casinos, VictoryLand, were . . . legal.

We're not making this up. One minute lawyers connected to Bob Riley find e-bingo machines are legal; the next minute, they find them illegal.

A rational human being could be confused, but we know this much for sure:

* According to published reports, Bob Riley funneled some $10 million to Bradley Arant, where the former governor's son-in-law, Rob Campbell, is a lawyer. That was just during the final two years of the Riley administration, when the governor hired the firm to help lead his anti-bingo crusade. Perhaps that had an influence on the firm's decision to switch its verdict from "legal" to "illegal" on e-bingo machines in Alabama?

Michael Scanlon
* The Mississippi Choctaws, Riley's documented benefactors, were experiencing a major business downturn just as Riley launched his crusade against non-Indian gaming facilities in Alabama. The Choctaws were laying off employees and cutting back casino operations to three days a week. Was that because the success of VictoryLand and other facilities were keeping Alabama customers at home? GOP felon Jack Abramoff admitted in his book that the Choctaws spent some $20 million to help fight Don Siegelman's planned lottery and get Riley elected in 2002. Did Riley return the favor in 2008 by suddenly deciding that Alabama facilities were illegal, throwing his Choctaw friends a lifeline while they were in financial distress?

What's really going on? Is this controversy, which began to heavily percolate in 2008, really about legal issues or something else? In Bryan Taylor's defense, was he only doing what his boss told him to do--concoct an analysis that found e-bingo illegal, regardless of what the law or facts showed? Does the controversy exist only because Bob Riley and his associates have been bought and sold for Indian gaming interests--with the help of GOP felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon? Does the fact that Scanlon once worked for Riley tell us all we need to know about the former govenor's real motives?

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

My bet is that Taylor shaped his analysis to say exactly what Gov. Bob wanted it to say.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that Taylor ' s law partner Steve Brom is a prominent LG activist in Birmingham? Seems odd given Taylor's rep as a bible thumper. Maybe he is as big a hypocrite as his mentor Bob.

e.a.f. said...

It sort of works this way. You do what you want, even if you are on shaky legal grounds. You get rid of the opposition and you are free to do what you like, until some one bigger forces you to stop. It worked for these guys. They're still at it.

As we used to say, don't ask for permission. Just do it. You can apologize later. Seems to have worked for this bunch.

Anonymous said...

fiddle on nero

Anonymous said...

ebingo is usa and that was how the whole world was going to be

scary world alabama earth ebingo

whole world thought so too and that's the only reason alabama and the whole lot of ebingo digits are being seen now

made in america ebingo virtual

no humans necessary anymore except to make front appearances for the owners of digital slavery

rove may not be as powerful now but the ebingo is always going in the world of earth internet

on that ride the riders are jumping into the virtual sleigh slaying all foes by ebingo

you got your trigger finger writing exactly the pulse fiction that needs to be

woof is always louder than the virtual crowd

age was what was decided to be the real crutch in usa and all the while the ebingo bunch are best old

give usa a few more thousand years and maybe

Anonymous said...

The Alabama leadership is not in a diversity. That is, there are the Rove "Young Republicans", but we know that was an intentional secret weapon against US.

And, we understand degradation got put into our world as though we were going to be the GAY USA, for the planet to say OH WOW.

And, then, the whole world would rally round the dick poles running the American nightmares.

Journalists can write the whole story and the internet is not to be competed with, until.

We know what happens to journalists that get too deep in the Muck that Racketeers and calls the act "Jurisprudence".

Yep, you've been nipped after a fashion in the machine of secret agenda for the new Americans.

Do we see the new Americans?

They are still running the south and the south has been running away from enlightenment as long as the owners are the Riley clan.

Anonymous said...

Lawyers base legal opinions on precedent. Taylor's analysis was 100% consistent with precedent. The precedent in Alabama courts dating back to the 90s, beginning with an opinion written by Democrat Sue Bell Cobb when she was on the Court of Criminal Appeals, was this: references to the word "bingo" in the Bingo Amendments to Alabama's Constitution refer only to the ordinary game of bingo, which must be NARROWLY construed as an exception to the Constitution's prohibition of gambling. If the Amendment had intended to legalize slot machine style games under the guise of "bingo," it would have had to say so. Taylor has a reputation as a strict constructionist -- interpreting the Constitution narrowly according to its plain terms, not liberally to allow "bingo" to be interpreted "in the eye of the beholder." In this case, that philosophy and that advice was simply spot on with regard to longstanding precedent.

Anonymous said...

When cheeks can be puffed up to the point of appearing to blow out a candle, what message, really ?

Blow the brains out of the head that isn't attached to the mind ?

What kind of person wants to dress up and go into places where the system is run on criminal fraud ?

Clearly, those with no shame to be in a public photo, appearing to blow the house down in one great gigantic cheeky puff-up ..

... and of course a membership paying dues (license?) for this act !

Unknown said...

You get rid of the opposition and you are free to do what you like, until some one bigger forces you to stop. It worked for these guys.

Anonymous said...

The South was raised on the Barrel and the Barrel was lots of 'em shoved into the waters to get rid of the waste.

The waste was those that were throw-away castaways the dredges of the other societies.

The Barrels dumped and the waste is what took over the South and called the throw-away castaways "Gov".

Anonymous said...

Why are the United States of America and especially the Southern States of America, backwards.

The racism is no better today than what was and is, in the reality of the prison system and the number of "colored" versus non-colored, or "white".

Perhaps the oppressed white which are in a majority, too, can stop fighting with the oppressed non-white and figure out how to direct the rage into focused as righteous.

Anonymous said...

Since every closed casino ultimately lost every case, it would appear that Taylor was right on the money, wouldn't it? The only outstanding case right now is McGregor's, and he's having to resort to the argument that, despite what the Macon County bingo amendment actually says (it says nothing about electronic bingo or slot machines) the voters knew what they were voting for and intended it to be legal. That may be true, but courts are typically loathe to delve into the practice of divining "voter intent" when the face of a constitutional provision is pretty darn clear about what it does and what it doesn't do. No matter what you say about Macon County having its "own bingo amendment," that doesn't change the fact that the amendment says nothing about legalizing slot machines.

legalschnauzer said...

I don't think it says Taylor was on the money; it says our Supreme Court is bought and paid for by Indian gaming interests--just like Bob Riley, Taylor's mentor, Luther Strange and others.

You also are wrong about what the Macon Co. amendment says. It says the sheriff will promulgate rules and regulations for the playing of bingo, and he has determined that the machines play an electronic form of bingo.