By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—On July 7, attorneys for VictoryLand filed a motion in the Montgomery Circuit courtroom asking for the release of money and electronic bingo machines seized in January 2013.
On Friday, July 10, Attorney General Luther Strange filed a counter motion stating that the money and machines should stay in the hands of the State, because the trial Judge’s “order was erroneous as a matter of fact and law.”
VictoryLand attorney Joe Espy, said he found it surprising that the Attorney General would take the position that Judge Shashy is wrong.
In the filing, the Attorney General’s Office states that Judge Shashy “improperly determined that the Equal Protection Clause provided a viable defense in this case,” and that he should amend the order to “correct the Court’s earlier erroneous misinterpretation of the law.”
The State asserts that it “produced sufficient evidence that the seized gambling devices and currency are from VictoryLand’s illegal gambling operation and are thus due to be forfeited.”
Espy says, like the Attorney General, his client is asking for a further finding of fact: “Of course they want the finding of fact to be contrary to us. So, basically they have asked that they be allowed to proceed with the appeal on Equal Protection. And they want a finding of facts that the machines were illegal. But then, if the court rules with us they want a stay, pending appeal,” said Espy.
The State continues to hold that despite Judge Shashy’s ruling, VictoryLand was operating illegally. They state an amended order in VictoryLand’s favor would “not clarify or assist anyone in this case,” but would do harm to the case docketed with the State Supreme Court.
“We felt like the Equal Protection order was based upon the fact that we were operating legally,” said Espy. “They take the position that that’s not right so we wanted that clarification or that addition that we are in fact operating according to the vote of the people.”
Espy thinks the court will react to the last round of filings in the very near future.