The Cherokee nation application to build a Pope County casino was filed today.
As yet, no hearings set on two lawsuits. One is aimed at derailing a casino process entirely until an election is held under a local ordinance. Another is in support of a Mississippi competitor. The former suit is now in Judge Alice Gray’s court. Judge Tim Fox drew the case challenging an earlier rejection of the Mississippi group’s application for lack of approval from current local officeholders.
The new application permit period reopened by the state Racing Commission runs until mid-November. It’s unclear if others will file, or look to the legal actions to clarify issues. Other competitors have complained the Pope County Quorum Court, in endorsing the Cherokee proposal without public discussion, had made the process unfair.
All five applications in the first application period were denied because none carried an endorsement from county judge, Quorum Court or Russellville mayor. As currently endorsed by the Quorum Court, the casino would be built north of Interstate 40, near but outside the Russellville city limits.
UPDATE: Circuit Judge Tim Fox today ordered the case filed by Gulfside Casino Partnership transferred to Pope County. His order said substantial tax dollars in Pope County would be affected by the case, which would likely require a jury trial and will require testimony from people from Pope County.
Under relatively new state law, Fox notes that appeals of administrative decisions may be filed in any county, but it was “patently clear” that the “best interests of judicial economy and efficiency” would be served by hearing the case in Pope County. He ordered the transfer.
HOWEVER: Later in the day Gulfside filed a motion to ask Fox to reconsider it said the case should be heard in Pulaski County. The motion says since the suit is only against state officials it may only be heard in Pulaski County
No action as yet on the docket relative to the lawsuit seeking an election except for Judge Mary McGowan’s recusal from the case Wednesday for unspecified reasons. It was assigned in turn to Judge Alice Gray.
UPDATE II: In the latter case, the Cherokees asked to intervene against the lawsuit seeking an election. They have an obvious interest.