Task Force appeals Greenetrack ruling to state Supreme Court

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The leader of the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling on Tuesday appealed the injunctions entered against the State by Greene County Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway to the Alabama Supreme Court.

In the appeal John M. Tyson, Jr., the Commander of the Task Force, notes that Greene County District Attorney Gregory Griggers admitted to Judge Hardaway that he and then-Greene County Sheriff Ronald K. Smith have probable cause to believe the gambling machines at the Greenetrack casino are illegal. In response to Griggers’ motion earlier this month that the machines are illegal, Judge Hardaway issued an order seizing three of the machines, authorizing the State to inspect, analyze and test the machines at Greenetrack, and supposedly seizing the remainder of the gambling machines at Greenetrack “in place.”

However, in the same order, Judge Hardaway also prohibited the State from confiscating the machines that the DA said are illegal and ordered that Greenetrack could continue to operate the machines indefinitely, a type of order that the Alabama Supreme Court has said time and time again cannot be issued.

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“When it became clear the DA was not going to challenge or appeal the judge’s improper injunction, it became apparent to me and to the Governor that this sham forfeiture action was simply another ploy by gambling interests to protect an illegal gambling operation from any true enforcement of the criminal laws,” said Tyson. “This became even more obvious when the State was enjoined again by Judge Hardaway as soon as it showed up to actually inspect the machines as Judge Hardaway had initially authorized.”

The appeal filed by Tyson points out that when state law enforcement officers showed up at Greenetrack pursuant to the court order to inspect the machines on June 18, Greenetrack officials had in their hands a written “Raid Plan” which directed them to call “Judge Hardaway”. It also points out that Greenetrack CEO Luther “Nat” Winn did just that, reaching the judge on his cell phone.

The brief to the Supreme Court argues that, “The gambling interests have committed to use any and all means to escape the uniform enforcement of Alabama’s gambling laws, including outright defiance of this Court for as long as they can get away with it. Make no mistake. This Court’s authority is on the line. It is time for the gambling interests’ lawlessness to end.”

Tyson’s appeal asks for an emergency stay of Judge Hardaway’s injunctions against the State and asks for Judge Hardaway to be removed from the case.

“I have every confidence that the Alabama Supreme Court will not tolerate this kind of blatant disregard of its authority. I am hopeful that this appeal will receive the swiftest possible attention from the Court,” said Tyson.