Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Republican legislators were caught on tape making crude racial remarks, including one reference to "aborigines," as the Alabama bingo trial headed into its fourth day of testimony.
Meanwhile, profound constitutional issues involving former Governor Bob Riley and high-profile defendant Milton McGregor, continue to hover over the trial.
The racially insensitive comments were picked up on a wire worn by State Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale, in photo above), the government's star witness. In one instance, Beason himself refers to certain black Alabamians as "aborigines."
As for constitutional issues, a federal judge's decision to free former Governor Bob Riley from testifying in the trial appears to be unlawful and probably should be overturned on constitutional grounds if it ever is appealed. In fact, the decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry F. Moorer is dubious on a number of grounds. And that means Riley still could be forced to testify, assuming the actual law is followed--always a big "if" in Alabama federal courts.
The first three days of testimony in the bingo trial hint that the government's case is weak. Wiretaps and testimony involving Beason indicate the case against gambling magnate Milton McGregor is virtually nonexistent. In some instances, the record shows that Beason raised the issue of money in discussions with pro-gaming individuals, not the other way around. And a jury question about entrapment, sent to U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, could be bad news for the prosecution.
Perhaps the most explosive moment of the trial, so far, came yesterday when tapes played in court revealed that Beason and other GOP legislators used crude racial remarks in several conversations. From The Birmingham News:
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