By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—On Tuesday law enforcement agents from the Attorney General’s Office and the Alabama Department of Public Safety stormed VictoryLand casino in Shorter, Alabama.
An order from the Supreme Court of Alabama opened the door for Attorney General Luther Strange to command the raid and seizure of property at the facility.
On February 15, the Supreme Court ordered Macon County Circuit Court Judge Tom Young to sign the search warrant per the Attorney General’s request. Young had previously denied the AG’s warrant. The AG then went before the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals who unanimously denied his request. Five members of the Criminal Court of Appeals are republicans.
To the dismay of many, the ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court and all adjoining documents were sealed by the Court.
During the raid the “Alabama Political Reporter” requested information as to which justices had voted to overturn Judge Young’s decision and what was the vote count.
On Tuesday, we were denied that request. Today shortly before noon, we were able to obtain the documents.
The members of the court who voted to overturn Judge Young were as follows, Chief Justice Roy S. Moore, Lyn Stuart, Michael F. Bolin, Tom Parker, Glenn Murdock, James Allen Main, Alisa Kelli Wise and Tommy Bryan. Justice Greg Shaw was not sitting at the time of the ruling.
In case No: 112049, the justices wrote, “Having reviewed the State’s petition for a writ of mandamus and the materials submitted in support thereof, including the reply submitted to this Court by Judge Young, this Court finds that the State was legally entitled to the requested warrant and that Judge Young erred in refusing to issue that warrant. Accordingly, we grant the State’s petition for a writ of mandamus, and we order Judge Young to act immediately upon the receipt of this order to issue the warrant as more fully described in the petition pending before this Court.”
Joe Espy who represents Milton McGregor and VictoryLand had said earlier, “He [Judge Young] was forced to sign the warrant which we respectfully believe is a dangerous precedent.”
The consensus at the State House on Wednesday was that a terrible leapfrog of authority has been committed and that justice for McGregor may have become a victim of politics.
After being compelled by the Supreme Court to sign the VictoryLand search warrant Macon County Circuit Judge Tom Young hand wrote on the warrant, “Based on the conflict in information known to this court at this time, I do not believe that this application for a search warrant provides sufficient probable cause. One month ago, based on this information, I declined to issue the warrant and the Criminal Court of Appeals supported the decision when they denied the Attorney General’s first writ of mandamus, by unanimous decision. No new information has been provided to this date. The Supreme Court has now issued to this Court a Writ of Mandamus requiring the Court to sign the same warrant, despite this Court’s opinion that it is improper according to the law. This Court will, as always, follow the mandates of the Supreme Court, although, it does so with the greatest judicial reluctance.”
Money and eBingo machines have been hauled away from VictoryLand in big semis.
It seems the Attorney General’s office is the big winner in the VictoryLand game. Newspaper headline scream in bold type, VictoryLand Raided. But for the people of Macon County who depended on the jobs VictoryLand supplied, no Supreme Court ruling, no headline, no high fives at the AG’s office will cause them to understand why they are out of work.