The State filed an in personam action pursuant to OCGA 16-14-6 (b) of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act against Hargurtag Singh and his company Rajan Singh, LLC (collectively, "Singh"), seeking equitable relief including injunctive relief to stop the alienation of Singh's property and the appointment of a receiver over Singh's business and property. The complaint also sought the forfeiture of certain property as defendants in rem pursuant to OCGA 16-14-7. The complaint alleged that Singh was engaging in illegal gambling activity at its Clayton County business, Pure Gas Station, by paying out cash winnings to persons who played electronic gaming devices located in the store. On the same day the action was brought, the trial court granted the State's request that cash and equipment be seized and that certain assets be frozen; granted the State's request for a temporary restraining order; and granted the State's request that a receiver be placed in control of the business. The State and Singh subsequently entered into a consent agreement whereby Singh was allowed to resume operating the business under certain conditions and under the receiver's supervision. Hargurtag Singh later moved to dismiss the action on two grounds: (1) that the complaint failed to state a claim under the Georgia RICO Act, and (2) that the State's in personam forfeiture claims were unconstitutional. The trial court declined to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, reasoning that the State had sufficiently alleged violations of OCGA 16-12-22 and 16-12-28. Relying on the Supreme Court's decision in, inter alia, "Cisco v. Georgia," (680 SE2d 831) (2009)) the trial court dismissed the State’s in personam claims because it determined that all civil in personam claims under the RICO statute were unconstitutional. The State appealed and Singh filed a cross appeal. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Singh moved to dismiss contending that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction based on its view that the State failed to file an application for interlocutory review; the State contended that the trial court erred in dismissing the claims against the in personam defendant on grounds that claims under Georgia's RICO act were unconstitutional; and in the cross appeal, Singh contended that the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded: (1) it had jurisdiction over this case; (2) the Court reversed the decision pertaining to the in personam defendants, finding none of the subsections of OCGA 16-14-6 require proof of criminal conduct on the part of the in personam defendants, but allowed the superior court to enjoin any violations of OCGA 16-14-4 until the case was resolved; and, (3) Singh failed to show that there was no set of provable facts that would entitle the State to relief. Accordingly, the trial court's denial of the motion to dismiss pursuant to OCGA 9-11-12(b)(6) was sustained. View "Georgia v. Singh" on Justia Law
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Gaming Law, Georgia Supreme Court, Government & Administrative Law
Patel, et al. v. State, et al.; Check, et al. v. State, et al.; Duhwala, et al. v. State, et al.; Patel, et al. v. State, et al.; Mehta, et al. v. State, et al.
These appeals arose from trial court orders granting preliminary injunctions and appointing receivers to take control of the assets of certain stores and operate them. In each of the five stores, the state filed civil actions under the Georgia RICO statute, OCGA 16-14-1 et seq., and named as in personam defendants the purported owners and operators of the stores, alleging that defendants each engaged in two or more acts of illegal commercial gambling. Defendants appealed the trial court's order granting the state's motions for interlocutory injunctions, which continued in effect the terms of the temporary restraining orders and continued the receivership. The court held that a RICO forfeiture was a proceeding that could be initiated by the state pursuant to OCGA 16-14-7 and that the procedures surrounding the orders granting the injunctions and continuing the receiverships did not violate due process where defendants were afforded the opportunity to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and present arguments. The court also held that the trial court's consideration of the question of in rem forfeitures constituting unconstitutionally excessive fines was premature, and the cases must be remanded for consideration of those issues when properly presented. The court further held that the evidence presented did demonstrate a pattern of racketeering activity; that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in deciding the issues where it recited equitable arguments of both parties; and that the trial court did not err in denying defendants' motion to recuse a judge. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment in part and reversed in part, remanding for further proceedings.