Jefferson County Judge Eugene Verin says he's inclined to let bingo halls in Bessemer Cutoff stay open
By Toraine Norris -- The Birmingham News
April 12, 2010, 10:29AM
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Eugene Verin said this morning he is inclined to grant the city of Fairfield's request for a restraining order to keep the governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling from raiding bingo halls in the Bessemer division of the county.
Verin said his inclination is to grant the restraining order and let the bingo halls in the Bessemer Cutoff stay open until the Supreme Court can rule whether the task force is controlled by Attorney General Troy King or Gov. Bob Riley. However, Verin said he first will listen to arguments from involved parties this morning at an 11 a.m. hearing.
The hearing originally was set for 10 a.m., but some of the involved parties, including Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Arthur Green and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, indicated they had not been served with notice of the hearing.
John Tyson Jr., the Mobile County district attorney appointed by Gov. Bob Riley as commander of the governor's task force, was present for the 10 a.m. hearing and filed a motion to dismiss Fairfield's request.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Eugene Verin this afternoon agreed to block Alabama Gov. Bob Riley's Task Force on Illegal Gambling from raiding bingo halls in the Bessemer division of the county.
Verin said the bingo halls, which closed Friday to avoid raids threatened by task force commander John Tyson Jr., can reopen until the Alabama Supreme Court rules about who is in charge of the task force -- Tyson, who was appointed by the governor, or Attorney General Troy King.
In a hearing that lasted about 40 minutes today, Verin heard arguments from Tyson, Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Arthur Green and Fairfield City Attorney Michael Trucks.
Tyson said he would appeal Verin's decision to the Alabama Supreme Court.
Response from Gov. Riley's Ofiice
Governor’s Office Reacts to Judge’s Ruling Regarding Casinos in Bessemer Division of Jefferson County
MONTGOMERY – Jeff Emerson, Communications Director for Governor Bob Riley, issued the following statement about the ruling issued today by Judge Eugene Verin:
“The Alabama Supreme Court has already ruled that no judge can do what Judge Verin did today. Judge Verin’s ruling today is in absolute defiance of two previous rulings from the Supreme Court. The state’s highest court has ruled that judges have no jurisdiction to issue temporary restraining orders against the enforcement of criminal laws. If they did, every criminal in Alabama would have a right to ask for a restraining order and bring a civil lawsuit prior to being charged. As the Supreme Court has said, the proper place for these issues to be decided is at the trial after illegal gambling machines have been seized,” said Emerson.