Federal judge dismisses Victoryland voting rights lawsuit - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Federal judge dismisses Victoryland voting rights lawsuit

Posted: Updated:
  • NEWSMore>>

  • “Hop to the Tanks” food drive

    “Hop to the Tanks” food drive

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 3:17 AM EDT2014-04-16 07:17:04 GMT
    The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division will host the "Hop to the Tanks" food drive Tuesday April 15 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Fort Benning Commissary. Donated food will support theMore >>
    The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division will host the "Hop to the Tanks" food drive Tuesday April 15 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Fort Benning Commissary. Donated food will support the Battle Buddy Resource Center which has a mission to combat hunger by providing food assistance to Fort Benning Soldiers and their families. More >>
  • Georgia fugitive captured after months at large

    Georgia fugitive captured after months at large

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 3:01 AM EDT2014-04-16 07:01:00 GMT
    An escaped Georgia inmate who was on the run for months is now back behind bars. Chad Dasher eluded law enforcement since escaping from Tattnall County, Ga. on Jan. 24, 2014. [Related: Georgia fugitiveMore >>
    An escaped Georgia inmate who was on the run for months is now back behind bars. Chad Dasher eluded law enforcement since escaping from Tattnall County, Ga. on Jan. 24, 2014. [Related: Georgia fugitiveMore >>
  • Man charged with leaving hoax device at Boston Marathon finish line

    Man charged with leaving hoax device at Boston Marathon finish line

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 3:00 AM EDT2014-04-16 07:00:41 GMT
    Two unattended bags found at the Boston Marathon finish line Tuesday have been detonated by Boston police's bomb squad. One suspect has been taken into custody.More >>
    Two unattended bags found at the Boston Marathon finish line Tuesday have been detonated by Boston police's bomb squad. One suspect has been taken into custody.More >>
MACON CO., AL (WSFA) -

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Monday that alleged that Alabama elected officials violated the voting rights of Macon County residents by raiding and shutting down Victoryland, an electronic gambling facility in Shorter. The judge also issued sanctions against the plaintiffs' attorney.

"This is a violation of the Voting Rights Act," said Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford in the past. He and several others were plaintiffs in the suit.

Judge Keith Watkins wrote in a 50-page decision that the lawsuit had no legal merit and was "frivolous."


"The complaint… has nothing to do with the infringement of voting rights," Judge Watkins wrote. "The Complaint attempts to revive a private business offering electronic bingo that has been deemed illegal by the highest court in Alabama, the highest law enforcement official in Alabama, and the chief executive officer of Alabama, its Governor."

Ford filed the lawsuit in April alleging that because the state put an end to a practice that the people of Macon County approved through the voting process their voting rights were violated.

Macon County residents approved a local constitutional amendment in 2003 that authorized certain types of charitable bingo within the county.

Judge Watkins' ruling directly refuted any claims of discrimination and basically informed both parties that the actions of the state have nothing to do with the Voting Rights Act.

"No facts plausibly suggest that Defendants have affected Plaintiffs' voting rights," Watkins wrote.

"On the surface, Plaintiffs say this case is about vindicating minority voting rights conferred by federal statutes and the United States Constitution. But just below that surface emerges a different purpose – saving electronic bingo operations at Quincy's 777 Casino at VictoryLand ("VictoryLand"), a now-defunct Macon County gambling business," he also included in the order filed Monday.

The judge also remarked that the plaintiffs' attorney, Donald LaRoche, should have known that the lawsuit was frivolous. LaRoche was ordered to pay for the legal fees incurred by the Alabama Attorney General's Office in preparing responses to Ford and other plaintiffs' claims.

Mayor Johnny Ford could not  be reached for comment Monday. His attorney, Donald LaRoche, out of Massachusetts, said that he was "disappointed" over the dismissal but needed time to review the 54-page court document before he could issue any response.

Attorney General Luther Strange said in a statement: "I have always said that Mayor Ford's lawsuit was a legally frivolous publicity stunt, and now the federal court has agreed.  I am especially grateful that Mr. Ford's attorney will be required to reimburse the State for the time it took our attorneys to respond to his frivolous allegations."

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow

1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, Ga. 31906

FCC Public File
publicfile@wtvm.com
706-494-5400
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WTVM. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.