Supreme Court Clears Way for Country Crossing Raid

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Supreme Court has cleared the way for the governor's task force on gambling to raid the electronic bingo operation at the Country Crossing development in Dothan.

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a judge's order blocking the governor's task force from raiding Country Crossing and seizing bingo machines.

The court did not address the task force's request to be given more time to conduct the raid since the original 10-day limit on the search warrant expired. This means the task force will have to get a judge to issue a new search warrant.

The Supreme Court agreed with the task force's contention that the Houston County Commission and a local economic development authority did not have standing to seek a court order blocking the raid.

---Gov. Riley's Response---

MONTGOMERY -- The Alabama Supreme Court today dismissed the case filed by the Houston County Commission seeking to prevent Governor Bob Riley’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling from seizing illegal slot machines being operated at Country Crossing in Cottonwood.

On January 6, a circuit judge in Dale County issued an order restraining the Task Force from enforcing Alabama’s anti-gambling laws at Country Crossing. The order was issued in the middle of the night with no lawyer for the Task Force being present. The lawyers who obtained that middle-of-the-night order later conceded that it had been illegally obtained, but the trial judge reissued the restraining order on January 11.

The Supreme Court’s order states that the “trial court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction to interfere with a criminal proceeding by civil action.” The ruling that the trial court had exceeded its jurisdiction was unanimous.

“This decision is a major victory for the rule of law in Alabama. The Supreme Court’s order makes clear that gambling bosses around the State will not be able to prevent the State’s anti-gambling laws from being enforced,” said Governor Bob Riley.

“We were confident that the Supreme Court would not allow this unprecedented order disrupting law enforcement activities to stand. It shows that the law will prevail over money and political influence

“This order will allow our Task Force to move forward in seizing these illegal slot machines, and it sends a strong message that similar efforts to stop seizures at other casinos around Alabama will not be permitted,” said Governor Riley.

In response to press inquiries as to the timing for future law enforcement operations, Governor Riley said, “We will not comment on the timing of law enforcement operations. The operators of all illegal casinos in this State should not sleep well tonight, tomorrow night, or any night in the future. The anti-gambling laws of Alabama are going to be enforced.”

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