Once again Jefferson County Circuit Judge Houston Brown came to Greene County to conduct a hearing on the legality of seizure of electronic bingo machines. This time the defendant was Frontier Bingo and the arguments and precedences were basically the same as they were in the Greenetrack vs. State of Alabama hearing.
Brown made it clear that there were different issues at stake – mainly that the Supreme Court had ordered a stay of the return of the bingo machines to Greenetrack. “The only thing stayed was the enforcement of the order to return the machines to Greenetrack by a certain date,” he said.
“The only issue here today is whether or not the state has any reason to determine that the machines seized from Frontier were illegal slot machines. This case is based on criminal law. The Greenetrack case was based on civil law. The rules of criminal procedures govern what we do today,” he explained.
Atty. Henry Reagan with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office insisted that the machines at Frontier were illegal slot machines.
Sheriff Joe Benison, who under Constitutional Amendment 743 is the regulator of bingo in Greene County, was called to the stand.
Benison testified that he drafted a set of regulations for bingo and evaluated the machines at Frontier, finding that they met the criteria set forth in Amendment 743.
He said that he had visited Frontier several times before issuing the license and consulted with his attorney Flint Liddon during that time.
Several times during the questioning of Benison, Liddon refused to allow him to answer, claiming attorney/client privilege.
Liddon then requested that he be allowed to coach Benison on all of his answers and was denied by the Judge.
Reagan questioned Benison about the Cornerstone Decision and insisted that Cornerstone discussed Amendment 743.
Judge Brown interrupted, saying that Amendment 743 allowed the playing of electronic bingo in Greene County.
Reagan retorted that Cornerstone was not the law. “That is irrelevant,” replied Judge Brown.
The questioning of Benison continued for some time, with Reagan asking for information as to whether Benison had ever played electronic bingo and whether or not he won.
Defense attorneys representing Frontier questioned Lt. William Carson, district supervisor of District 5 of the Alabama Beverage Control Board.
The defense attorney asked basically the same questions asked during the trial several months ago regarding the seizure of machines at Greenetrack, and received basically the same answers – that slot machines were gambling and gambling was illegal in Alabama, regardless of the fact that a Constitutional Amendment had been passed by a large majority of the voters of Greene County legalizing electronic bingo in the county under certain circumstances.
The questioning continued for several hours until Judge Brown called it to a halt, saying that he would set another hearing date to allow both sides to continue with their questioning.
Weather for Eutaw, Ala. Thursday Friday SaturdayPartly Cloudy91/66Clear79/55Clear81/61
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