AG: judge did not have authority to sign bingo order

By Alan Collins

FAIRFIELD, ALA. (WBRC) - A statement released from Attorney General Luther Strange's office Tuesday afternoon is a sign that the battle over bingo in Alabama and Jefferson County is far from over.

On Monday, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Eugene Verin signed a court order allowing for e-bingo in the Bessemer cutoff, and prohibiting county or state officials from intervening.

However, Strange's office says that he doesn't have the authority to make that decision.

"The Alabama Supreme Court has made clear that circuit courts lack the authority, in civil cases like this one, to enjoin law enforcement from effectively enforcing the criminal laws of this State," the statement read. "Attorney General Strange has directed his Office to appear on behalf of Sheriff Hale and take all steps necessary to have the court's order stayed and, ultimately, vacated."

The AG's office had asked District Attorney Arthur Green not to sign off on Verin's order, but he did. He said he is not commenting on the matter until he hears what Strange plans to do. Governor Robert Bentley also said he is leaving the matter up to the AG.

Local attorneys and residents of Fairfield hope the problem will be solved quickly so they can get back into the bingo halls and make money for their city.

"It's going to provide the city to hopefully get these places back open again, to get these people employed again," Fairfield attorney Michael Trucks said. Trucks asked for the court order.

Copyright 2011 WBRC. All rights reserved.