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VictoryLand Hearing Leaves Questions

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—On Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge William A. Shashy heard oral augments to determine the future of VictoryLand Casino.

Defense attorney Joe Espy asked the court to rule on the legality of the bingo machines confiscated in 2013, when the Attorney General’s Office raided the casino, and on the Constitutionality of State amendment 744. 

Espy also asked the court to order the Attorney General to return VictoryLand’s property and cash.

Assistant Attorney General John L. Kachelman argued, that Judge Shashy had ruled improperly in the case, and also asked for clarification of the original charges.

Recently, Judge Shashy dismissed the State’s case against the casino, ruling that the State had violated the equal protection clause in it prosecution.

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The back and forth between the trial Judge and Kachelman became increasingly spirited as the hearing progressed. With Kachelman telling the Judge what he was doing was improper and beyond the law.

Judge Shashy continued to take issue with the fact that while VictoryLand has been closed by the AG, other facilities around the state have remained open. 

Judge Shashy repeatedly queried Kachelman as to what the State was going to do about the other casinos. He answered the Judge by saying, “I am not God, I don’t know what the future will bring.” When pressed he stated, that he would not reveal the Attorney General’s plans.

Judge Shashy expressed frustration over what he has characterized as “cherry picking” i.e., who to prosecute and who would be ignored:

“You want me to be a party to shutting down one and keeping the others open?”

The defense presented a list of casinos that remained open and how many machines were in operation at the various sites, all to make a case that VictoryLand was being targeted; a position the State denies. 

Judge Shashy in the final minutes asked about the state of the gambling bill being considered in the 2015 Special Session, indicating he would wait and see how that played out before making a ruling. He also asked that Kachelman accompany him to Greene County, so they could see the machines being played together. He also said he would like the Attorney General’s Office to provide one of its black SUVs with tinted windows for the trip.

VictoryLand attorney, Charlanna Skaggs suggested they run the siren for the Judge on the trip.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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