Victoryland search warrant could raise questions - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Victoryland search warrant could raise questions

Handwritten note at bottom of search warrant for Victoryland Raid Handwritten note at bottom of search warrant for Victoryland Raid

The search warrant that authorized Tuesday's raid had on Victoryland had a handwritten footnote from 5th District Circuit Court Judge Tom Young.

He wrote that he denied an initial request for a warrant a month ago from the Attorney General's office. And the state Court of Criminal Appeals also supported his decision. The AG's office appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court.

Judge Young wrote the Supreme Court ordered him to sign the warrant "despite this court's opinion that it is improper according to the law."

In a hint of what may be to come Victoryland Attorney Joe Espy seized upon the note in an afternoon news conference.

"You don't see that very often very said by a judge," Espy said. "This is unprecedented, I'm telling y'all this is one of the most unprecedented things I have ever seen."

WSFA 12 News legal analyst Al Agricola also says the chain of events is highly unusual and could come up later in court.

 "Clearly the judge's writing invites a review of the decision of whether probable cause is established by the facts that were presented in the warrant application, Agricola said. "So I'm sure the counsel for Victoryland will pursue that avenue. "

But he said the Supreme Court's involvement may factor in any potential review.

In this case we've got a determination from the state's highest court that the affidavit was in fact sufficient which is going to make the effort to seek review of that decision that more difficult," he said.

This is not first time Judge Young has raised questions about the investigation into Victoryland and rulings by the Supreme Court. In March 2010, he granted an injunction keeping Victoryland from being raided by then-Governor Bob Riley's Task Force on Illegal Gambling.  In August of that year, he granted an extension to the injunction to allow plaintiffs time to ask the Supreme Court to reconsider. In the order, he wrote:

"Although this Court is shocked and alarmed at the ramification of the Appellate Opinion issued on July 30, 2010, it is constitutionally bound to implement their decision. However, this Court would be remiss if it did not express its concerns of the slippery slope created by this Supreme Court Order....This Court finds no provision in our Constitution which intends to create a czar. This Court also remains mindful of its duty to protect the rights of the citizens who have duly elected these officials to represent them and to enforce the laws of this State."

Young later lifted the injunction. Victoryland closed that year instead of allowing a raid to proceed.

At last check, the initial filings in the latest investigation were under seal.

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