Griffin v. BentleyAnnotate this Case
Ashley Rich, district attorney of Mobile County, and the State filed separate petitions for a writ of mandamus directed to the Montgomery Circuit Court in an inverse-condemnation action filed by Jesse Griffin and others. Griffin filed the Montgomery action seeking compensation for property, namely electronic "bingo" machines and related equipment and money, previously confiscated by the State from Griffin's facility in Mobile County. Rich and the State each argued that the Montgomery Circuit Court was without subject-matter jurisdiction to interfere with the executive branch's enforcement of the criminal law, and without jurisdiction based on principles of sovereign immunity. In 2010, Griffin opened and operated a facility in containing 25 electronic devices Griffin promoted as lawful charitable bingo machines. That same day, members of the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling seized the 25 machines, as well as other items, from the facility. The machines were transported to a state warehouse in Montgomery County to be stored temporarily. Upon review, the Supreme Court consolidated the petitions for the purpose of writing one Opinion, and granted them, issuing the writs. The Court concluded that neither the fact that the electronic-bingo machines were brought to Montgomery County to be temporarily stored nor the fact that Griffin filed the Montgomery action before the Mobile County district attorney filed the Mobile action erased the fact that the events in this case arose from a criminal action initiated by the investigation of the facility and the resulting seizure of the machines and other evidence, "[t]hus, Griffin's reliance on the duel-litigation statute and the compulsory-counterclaim rule is misplaced." The Court issued the writs and directed the circuit court to vacate its order in favor of Griffin.