Gov. reacts to bingo raid case ruling

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Governor Bob Riley's office is reacting to a judge's order to allow White Hall Gaming Center to reopen. Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Mark Kennedy issued the preliminary injunction Saturday against the State of Alabama.

"We believe the judge should have recused himself because of his conflict of interest," said Jeff Emerson, Governor Riley's communications director. "We also believe his descision is fundamentally flawed and will be reversed on appeal..."

Finding "significant legal issues on the legality of both the issuance and the execution of the search warrant..." the judge issued an order which allowed the gaming center to reopen.

Kennedy ordered the government to return all items seized in the March 19 raid including $560,000 in cash and 101 gaming machines. The property must be returned within five days.

Kennedy said in his order that as long as White Hall continues to operate "in a manner which is consistent with it's operation prior to the raid..." the government is prohibited from interfering with their operations until a final outcome in the case is reached. Also, White Hall must "maintain and preserve" the gaming machines until a final outcome.

Kennedy was hearing arguments on whether or not to allow White Hall to reopen and on the return of cash and seized bingo machines.

The issue of whether or not the machine are legal will be decided by a different judge, as Kennedy has agreed to recuse himself of that issue.

The case is now being referred back to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Sue Bell Cobb for assignment to another judge.

WSFA 12 News will have more information as it becomes available.