Judge: Ala. AG, not Task Force, holds legal cards

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - A judge has ruled that Alabama's attorney general has legal authority over the governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling in its efforts to shut down electronic bingo casinos.

Circuit Judge Robert Vance of Birmingham ruled Monday that Attorney General Troy King must advise the court by March 22 whether he supports the task force's closing of a Lowndes County bingo operation and seizure of bingo machines.

Vance cited Alabama Supreme Court rulings that give the attorney general legal power over the governor in such cases. The judge said King has taken a "curious stance" of complaining about task force raids but not exercising his power to stop them if he wants to.


"Today's ruling from Judge Vance saying that the Governor did not have the authority to appoint counsel to represent the task force and that the Governor lacks any authority to create his own prosecutor is a step towards resolution of the constitutional crisis created by Governor Bob Riley.

Like most every Alabamian, we strongly agree with Judge Vance's ruling that the Governor should never have the right to replace the opinion of local law enforcement with his own opinions, ignoring the constitution and the will of the voters.

Of course the Governor has vowed to appeal but his statement doesn't end there. Gov. Riley goes on to characterize Judge Vance, one of the most respected jurists in the state, as corrupt simply because he has taken a stance based on law rather than on politics.  Regardless of the ongoing back-and-forth in the courts, it is clearer than ever that the best way to resolve this is for the legislature to allow the people of Alabama the right to vote on this issue and decide it once and for all."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)