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Judge says "no Constitution"

2002-05-20 18:19:25+00 by Dan Lyke 10 comments

Mark linked to a press release from Rick Stanley, Colorado Libertarian U.S. Senate hopeful, on trial for openly carrying a firearm. Said the judge:

"I already sent you an order in this case. The order has been mailed to your offices. You are not to mention the Constitution during this proceeding. Do you understand?"

Obviously this is a one-sided account, but I thought it worth a read.

[ related topics: Politics Libertarian Law Civil Liberties ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-05-20 19:03:28+00 by: ziffle

If the quotes are accurate, its aweful. I suspect its accurate, and its indicative of the trends in the culture -- the root of all this are the Universities, and their teachings - and the Marxist, collectivist views they espouse. From Chattanoogas takeover of broadband, to Argentinas collapsing economy, its all the same root - the group shall decide and the individual shall shut up and follow.

#Comment made: 2002-05-20 23:17:02+00 by: meuon

Wow.. what if a gun toting socially responsible anarchist in Chattanooga gets to go to court over MetroNet? Will ge be able to cite the constitution? Did it really say: Life, Liberty, Bandwidth and the pursuit of Warez?

#Comment made: 2002-05-21 02:01:59+00 by: Shawn

Not only on trial, but convicted. Does anyone know what this nonsense is about Denver being a "home rule city", and therefore not subject to either the State or Federal Constitutions?

#Comment made: 2002-05-21 02:56:13+00 by: TheSHAD0W

It's not subject to the State Constitution, thanks to an interpretation of a clause in that Constitution itself. It *IS* still subject to the Federal Constitution.

#Comment made: 2002-05-21 02:56:47+00 by: Sean Conner

Well, I found the Colorado Constitution and as odd as it seems, it was amended to incorporate Denver as a “home rule city” (along with a few other cities towards the end). §6 of said amendment is very interesting:

Such charter and the ordinances made pursuant thereto in such matters shall supersede within the territorial limits and other jurisdiction of said city or town any law of the state in conflict therewith.

Which to my reading means: If any Colorado state laws conflict with Denver law, then Denver law holds precedence. But I'm not a lawyer so I could be misreading Lawyerspeak here.

But I seem to recall reading (forgot where) that most people have a misconception of the Constitution and the article used the First Amendment as an example:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Note here that it says “Congress.” While Congress can't make such laws, State and local governments can (possibly by interpretation of the Tenth Amendment since you are also a citizen of the State and also subject to any local laws, but I don't recall the exact argument nor can I remember where I read it). Whether this is the argument the judge in the case is using or not, I don't know, but it might be possible (and that doesn't mean I subscribe to the views presented herein; I'm just trying to provide a possible explanation).

#Comment made: 2002-05-21 14:51:10+00 by: sethg

Reading between the lines of the press releases: It seems that Stanley and his lawyer, hoping for a jury nullification (everyone here knows about jury nullification, right?), tried to pick jurors in the voir dire, and then tried to convince the judge to sway them in the jury instructions, so that the jury would interpret the 2nd Amendment in a way that would guarantee an acquittal. The judge wanted the trial to focus on whether or not Stanley violated the law as it was written, and to leave questions of constitutionality to the appeals courts.

Unsurprisingly, the judge won.

#Comment made: 2002-05-21 16:45:56+00 by: Dan Lyke

sethg, since you speak of this with more authority than I've got, how does that seem to tie in to the judge keeping the jury small? Is the idea there that you've got less people who could cause a hung jury?

#Comment made: 2002-05-21 17:31:10+00 by: sethg

I think the judge thought the defendant and his lawyer were grandstanding doofuses who were using the arrest and trial as a maneuver to win publicity for the defendant's political campaign, and therefore was predisposed to deny _any_thing the defendant's lawyer asked for. I don't know whether the judge thought this from day one of the trial, or whether he drew this conclusion from the defendant's pretrial motions.

The defense attorney was clever enough to bait the judge into losing his temper and saying something stupid without actually violating the judge's instructions. On the one hand, if the judge had acted with more finesse, Stanley's campaign might not have these nice quotes for their press releases. On the other hand, the only opinions that the average judge really[Wiki] cares about are the opinions of the appeals courts, so in a situation like this, there's not much incentive to act with finesse.

#Comment made: 2002-05-21 17:43:42+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'd imagine that it'd be fairly obvious that it's a publicity ploy ("guy screaming 'second amendment', courtroom has gobs of spectators), I'm asking less from a standpoint of interest in the strategy and more about the tactics. It seems like this was about "get this out of my courtroom as quickly as possible, let the appeals courts deal with it". As a prospective juror I appreciate that, I'm more interested in how the individuals in the judicial system play the game and the politics within that system.

#Comment made: 2002-05-21 19:43:21+00 by: Larry Burton

Evidently this occurred in Denver city court. I would think that a not guilty verdict in this court would have very little effect on the way the courts looked at the 2nd ammendment. The guilty verdict opens up the way for an appeals court ruling that could have a larger effect upon the way the courts look at the 2nd ammendment. It appears to me, then that the judge was actually helping Mr. Stanley's case by insuring that the constitutional matters would be resolved in a higher court.