To Stay Or Not To Stay - THAT My Friend Is The Question In The Center Stage DramaRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Sep 21 2012 7:09 PM
HOUSTON COUNTY: In a financially strapped judicial system where the State of Alabama is always complaining about money, the State of Alabama is in pursuit of the $ 283,000 plus dollars from Center Stage.
On Thursday Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Conaway made it clear " I AM NOT RECUSING FROM THIS CASE ". Conaway is one of the junior Circuit Judges in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, but the senior in the practice of law at age 69.
Based on Conaway’s ruling, Attorney Ernie Hornsby, a practicing lawyer for 40 years in Houston County, who represents HEDA has filed additional motions today asking for the hearing set by Judge Conaway for September 26 be stayed until the issue can appealed on Conaway’s refusal to recuse. That motion is required to be filed to the trial judge ( Conaway ) prior to filing a Writ of Mandamus.
After the closing of court Sonny Reagan filed a response to HEDA’S motion asking Judge Conaway to deny the motion of HEDA.
Afer Conaway’s ruling, whether he grants of denies to motion, a Writ of Mandamus will be filed attempting to get the upper courts to remove Judge Conaway from the case.
If Judge Conaway grants the motion and voluntarily gives HEDA time to attempt to remove him from the case, the hearing will be stayed and motions will be filed with the upper courts. If Judge Conaway denies HEDA’S motion, they will file emergency motions seeking September 26 court hearing to be stopped.
Originally all Circuit Judges from the Twentieth Judicial Circuit have recused themselves from the cases involving Country Crossings and Center Stage. The recusal of all of the Circuit Judges since 2009 was based primarily on two reasons (1) a letter sent to then Governor Bob Riley by the Houston County Commission concerning Country Crossings and (2) publicity.
Judge Conaway, appointed by then Alabama Governor Bob Riley as Judge for the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, ruled recently the reasons cited in 2009 by the Circuit Judges of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit do not apply to him. Conaway says he was not a Circuit Judge at that time.
HEDA then filed a new motion to recuse based on his association in business with Dothan Businessman John Watson, his being interviewed for Judge by Sonny Reagan who worked for Governor Bob Riley and is now the prosecutor in this case, and other reasons. Watson is opposed to electronic bingo and made it clear he will fight it. HEDA claims the relationship between Watson and Conaway will present a conflict in a fair ruling. HEDA also claims the Attorney General Office "judgeshopped" in that they went to Baldwin County seeking Judge Conaway out for the search warrant when Judge Moulton was in Houston County.
Conaway rejected their arguements and has refused to step aside.
We will see the developments.
NOTE: Since this issue is heating up and becoming somewhat of a fight, I ahve scanned all court documents filed. I ahve asked Christian if Wiregrass Advertising that manages the web site to create a special tab for all of the court filings. Over the weekend we will begin placing them in this special section for your viewing pleasure.
This will be an interesting legal battle.