Monday, December 15, 2014

Sonny Reagan's forced resignation in AG's office raises the specter of criminal charges and disbarment

Sonny Reagan (right), with Bob Riley
The forced resignation of Sonny Reagan answers one question: How would Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange react to charges that one of his most high-profile deputies had leaked information about the ongoing Lee County grand-jury investigation?

Many more questions remain unanswered, and the episode hints that the state's ruling conservative elites often have their priorities out of whack when it comes to matters of loyalty and law. In an internal memo announcing the departure to AG employees, Strange essentially said Reagan was playing for one football team while tipping off the other team about plays to come. Reagan turned himself into a mole, a plant, a backstabber, and his actions raise this question: Is it possible for a lawyer to go any lower than this guy has gone?

Let's ponder just a few questions raised by Reagan's ouster:

* In his memo, Strange says Reagan "shared counsel" with two of the investigation's primary targets--House Speaker Mike Hubbard and State Rep. Barry Moore. What exactly does Strange mean by the term "shared counsel"? It appears he means that Reagan actually provided legal assistance to two individuals who were the subject of his own office's investigation. Again, how low can this guy go?

* Strange says Reagan "forged relationships with persons, outside the Office of Attorney General, who had an interest in undermining the Lee County Special Grand Jury's investigation." Who were these people, what was the nature of any communications Reagan had with them, and did they actually undermine the investigation?

* Were these individuals part of what has come to be known as "the Riley machine," headed by former Governor Bob Riley and his lawyer children, Rob Riley and Minda Riley Campbell. Reagan once served as a legal advisor to Bob Riley, so he clearly is in the Riley inner circle--as are Hubbard and Moore. Does the rule of law matter to those in the Riley orbit? Are their loyalties strictly to the Riley agenda, as opposed to Alabama taxpayers who pay their salaries?

* Will Reagan become the target of a criminal investigation? What about those with whom he communicated? Acting Attorney General Van Davis hinted that criminality was involved when he announced that Reagan had been placed on administrative leave in September, using verbs such as to "impede" and "obstruct" in describing the alleged conduct.
* What charges might be brought against Reagan and his cohorts? A state charge of obstructing governmental operations certainly is a possibility. If the misconduct invokes federal jurisdiction, that could lead to charges such as obstruction of justice, conspiracy, racketeering, and more.

* Where is the Alabama State Bar on all of this? How could Reagan possibly keep his bar card after committing acts of such brazen dishonesty?

* Reagan's lawyers in his appearance before the grand jury were Rob Riley and Bill Baxley. Did they know about Reagan's misdeeds? Did they participate in them? If so, what kind of professional and criminal sanctions might await them? Could they be disbarred or indicted, along with Reagan.

* Reagan has been the point man in the crusade against non-Indian gaming that started in 2008 under Bob Riley and has continued under Strange. Reagan has been the chief courtroom antagonist for several electronic-bingo casinos around the state that have been subjected to raids and seizure of equipment that appears to be legal under various constitutional amendments, but has been deemed illegal gambling machines by Riley, Strange, and Reagan. In fact, a judge is due to rule any day in a forfeiture proceeding involving the VictoryLand casino in Macon County. Given Reagan's dishonesty toward his colleagues in the AG's office, how has he treated adversaries in the courtroom setting? Have VictoryLand and other electronic-bingo facilities received fair shakes in their battles with a proven cheater named Sonny Reagan? If not, should their equipment be returned, and their facilities reopened?

* We know that Reagan unlawfully was trying to help Mike Hubbard and Barry Moore. But what about other members of Team Riley, including Big Bob himself? Insiders have speculated that prosecutors have the ammunition/information needed to "dismantle" the Riley Machine. Will the "Unmasking of Sonny Reagan" be a pivotal step in that process?


Anonymous said...

Schnauzer, I am curious. IF Mark White, Rob Riley, and Bill Baxley got confidential grand jury testimony from Sonny Reagan and did not report it to the court, wouldn't THEY be subject to disbarment/criminal prosecution?

Anonymous said...

Sonny Reagan's loyalty is to Bob Riley. Has nothing to do with the law.

Anonymous said...

This may be something you dont expect when all is said and done.

legalschnauzer said...

I'm not an expert on that subject, @12:46, but I believe you are correct. And Bill Britt, of Alabama Political Reporter, references that in his article about a possible conspiracy surrounding the Hubbard case. Our post today is built around Britt's piece.

legalschnauzer said...

You have my curiosity piqued, @10:02. Is there something unexpected you think we should be looking for?