Casino: Riley had no authority

Published 9:02 pm Monday, March 29, 2010

Attorneys for an electronic bingo facility in Lowndes County argue that Gov. Bob Riley had no authority to appoint a special prosecutor to shut down gaming operations in Alabama.

The attorneys for the White Hall Entertainment Center in Lowndes County argued in briefs filed late Friday with the Alabama Supreme Court that the governor overrode the power of local district attorneys when he appointed a task force to investigate and shut down gambling operations in Alabama.

The attorneys filed the briefs after the supreme court last week refused to dismiss Riley’s appeal of a judge’s order that said Alabama Attorney General Troy King has authority over the governor’s task force on illegal gambling.

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Riley’s attorneys have until Friday to file their response.

Riley has said he had authority to form the task force. The task force commander, Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, said King has no authority to take over the task force or stop raids at bingo facilities.

In the filing before the high court, attorneys for charities supported by the White Hall facility said the district attorney in Lowndes County had investigated the allegations of illegal gambling at the White Hall facility and chose not to pursue the case.

“The governor’s action not only encroached upon the authority of the Lowndes County district attorney, but his appointment of a competing district attorney also encroached upon the authority of the attorney general,” the filing said. It went on to say that under Alabama law, only the attorney general is entitled to “direct and control litigation.”

Riley and Tyson have said the governor has that authority and that agencies with law enforcement powers, like the Department of Public Safety and the Alabama Beverage Control Board, are under control of the governor.

The legal battle comes after King said he intended to take over operation of the task force. Riley has rejected King’s plan and said he would not turn over task force records to the attorney general.