Former justice to investigate allegations surrounding bingo case

By Alan Collins

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) -  It's being called an unprecedented move. The Alabama Supreme Court has appointed former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Gorman Houston to investigate allegations involving the court and Riley's administration.

Tuscaloosa businessman, Stan Pate, believes Governor Bob Riley has influenced the court to issue favorable rulings for Riley's Task Force.

Gorman Houston is no stranger to controversy. He became a chief justice during the time the state court ordered the removal of former Chief Justice Roy Moore's Ten Commandments Monument.

Milton McGregor's attorney welcomed Houston's appointment, "He is a person of eminence integrity and widely respected. I can only commend the court for picking Justice Houston. He is the ideal person to do a very sensitive but important job," said Mark White.

White spoke with Houston on Monday about information concerning those allegations. "I think every person expects the court to dispense justice with fairness and integrity but also having the appearance of being fair." White said.

State Representative John Rogers has also questioned how Riley's administration could get so many favorable rulings for the task force from the Supreme Court.

"Evidently he can call them at night and they will make a decision. They do it like flap jacks. He calls them and flip, you got a decision," Rogers said.

Governor Riley addressed the allegations in an earlier editorial.

"Neither I nor any member of the Task Force nor any Task Force lawyer no anyone acting at my direction has ever discussed any of the Task Force's appeal with any justice on the Supreme Court. Neither I nor any member of the Task Force nor any Task Force lawyer has had any advance notice as to which justice had been assigned to write the opinion in any Task Force appeal, nor did  any of us or anyone acting at our direction ever ask that a Task Force appeal be assigned to a particular justice," Governor Riley said.

It is not clear if the investigation will interfere with pending rulings surrounding electronic bingo. Attorneys for Macon County officials have asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its earlier rulings giving Governor Riley authority to send the Task Force to raid Victoryland.

Houston has received affidavits from Supreme Court justices and their staff denying any wrong doing.

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