Tag Archives: as applied challenge

PRESS RELEASE: Monumental Mental Health Second Amendment As-Applied Challenge Success

We are extremely proud to announce that Attorney Joshua Prince was successful in a second Second Amendment as-applied challenge in relation to a prior mental health commitment.

As our viewers are likely aware from Attorney Prince’s blog article Monumental Decision from the Middle District Court of Pennsylvania Regarding Mental Health Commitments and the Second Amendment, over a year and three months ago, Attorney Prince was successful in obtaining relief for Mr. Yox, who had previously been involuntarily committed as a juvenile but later went on to honorably serve in our Armed Forces and later as a state correctional officer. Under federal law, Mr. Yox was permitted to possess a firearm and ammunition in his official capacity as a law enforcement officer, but was precluded from possessing a firearm and ammunition in his private capacity. In fact, in providing relief to Mr. Yox, the court declared:

Indeed, Mr. Yox provides the perfect test case to challenge § 922(g)(4), as the illogical contradiction of being able to possess firearms in his professional capacities but not being able to possess a firearm for protection in his own home puts in relief a factual scenario where an as-applied Second Amendment challenge to this statute may succeed.

Indeed, if Mr. Yox were not to succeed on his as-applied challenge, we cannot imagine that there exists any person who could.

Unfortunately, the court had previously dismissed his co-plaintiff’s (Mr. Keyes’) identical arguments on the basis that the Pennsylvania Superior Court had already considered his Second Amendment challenge and found against him in In re Keyes. After rendering its decision on Plaintiff Yox’s claims, Mr. Keyes filed a request for the court to reconsider its prior ruling and arguing that it would be a manifest injustice if the court were deny him relief based on the faulty decision of the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

On October 4, 2016, Judge John E. Jones, III. overturned his prior holding finding that Mr. Keyes’ Second Amendment as-applied claim was barred and declared that Mr. Keyes “is in a materially identical situation” to Mr. Yox and that denying Keyes, while granting relief to Mr. Yox, would seem to constitute an “inequitable administration of the law” and “manifest injustice.”Judge Jones specifically declared in finding that the Pennsylvania Superior Court incorrectly analyzed his prior Second Amendment challenge:

The result is that Keyes is left behind while his co-Plaintiff receives full relief simply because Keyes pursued his Second Amendment claims in what turned out to be the wrong court. He is left with no recourse to receive vindication of his constitutional right to bear arms, even though this Court has, for all material purposes, made clear that his claim has full merit. This is a grossly unfair and inequitable result.

Judge Jones went on to state that “[w]e would be hard pressed to think of a better example of an inequitable administration of the laws, and it is a circumstance that cries out to be rectified.”

Thereafter, extensive discovery ensued and the Government and Mr. Keyes filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Yesterday, in an initially sealed memorandum (which was unsealed today with the consent of Mr. Keyes), Judge Jones, after providing a substantial and substantive analysis of the law and evidence of record, declared:

We have been presented with no evidence to indicate that disarming those who went through a period of mental illness and suicide attempts over a decade ago and who have regularly carried firearms in their professional capacity since that time reasonably fits within the governmental interest to promote safety. As such, 18 U.S.C. § 924(g)(4) cannot withstand intermediate scrutiny in the face of Keyes’ as-applied challenge. Enforcement of the statute against Keyes therefore violates his right to keep and bear arms – a right guaranteed to him by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

More importantly, telling of Judge Jones’ character and being an ardent defender of constitutional rights, he further declared:

We freely acknowledge our mindfulness of the fact that this decision is rendered in a time when our country appears awash in gun violence. Given the tenor of the times, it would be easy and indeed alluring to conclude that Plaintiff lacks any recourse. But to do so would be an abdication of this Court’s responsibility to carefully apply precedent, even when, as here, it is less than clear. Our jurisprudence and the unique facts presented guide us to the inescapable conclusion that if the Second Amendment is to mean anything, and it is beyond peradventure that it does, Plaintiff is entitled to relief.

Please join us in congratulating Attorney Prince for this monumental victory, as well as, Judge Jones for ensuring that for every wrong committed, the court has the power to correct it.

If you or someone you know has been involuntarily committed and is now prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms and ammunition, contact us today to discuss your options.

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Individuals Can Obtain Federal Firearms Relief for Non-Violent Misdemeanor Offenses!

Today, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in the consolidated cases of Binderup and Suarez v. Attorney General of the U.S., et al., which provides that individuals who do not “commit serious crime[s]” do not lose their Second Amendment Rights, while acknowledging that “there are no fixed criteria for determining whether crimes are serious enough to destroy Second Amendment rights” and that “the category of serious crimes changes over time as legislative judgments regarding virtue evolve.”

In reviewing Binderup’s conviction for corruption of a minor and Suarez’s carrying of firearm in Maryland without proper licensing, the Third Circuit explained

Congress tried to ensure that only serious crimes would trigger disarmament under § 922(g)(1) by exempting from the ban any state-law misdemeanant whose crime was punishable by less than two years’ imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20)(B). But we believe that accommodation still paints with too broad a brush, for a state legislature’s classification of an offense as a misdemeanor is a powerful expression of its belief that the offense is not serious enough to be disqualifying.

The court then went on to explain that while “it is possible for non-violent crimes to be serious,” one of the major considerations is whether an element of the crime includes “violence” and acknowledged that “neither Challenger’s offense had the use or attempted use of force as an element.” The court also found the actual sentence imposed to be a significant factor, in finding both to be “minor sentences.” In Binderup’s case, he received 3 years probation, while Suarez received a suspended sentence of 180 days imprisonment. In fact, the court declared:

Additionally, punishments are selected by judges who have firsthand knowledge of the facts and circumstances of the cases and who likely have the benefit of pre-sentence reports prepared by trained professionals. With not a single day of jail time, the punishments here reflect the sentencing judges’ assessment of how minor the violations were.

While the court did not decide whether Second Amendment as-applied challenges exist for felony convictions, the court did state:

We are not confronted with whether an as-applied Second Amendment challenge can succeed where the purportedly disqualifying offense is considered a felony by the authority that created the crime. On the one hand, it is possible to read Heller to leave open the possibility, however remote, of a successful as-applied challenge by someone convicted of such an offense. At the same time, even if that were so, the individual’s burden would be extraordinarily high—and perhaps even insurmountable. In any event, given that neither Challenger fits that description, we need not decide the question.

Accordingly, if you are prohibited as a result of a non-violent misdemeanor crime (or even potentially a non-violent felony crime), you have the ability to file a Second Amendment as-applied challenge in the federal district court to challenge your prohibition; however, if you read the decision, you will quickly see how intensive the analysis of any situation is and you must be able to show that historically your crime was not a “serious crime.”

Some of our viewers may remember that recently we were successful in having the Middle District of Pennsylvania find that the prohibition on possessing and purchasing firearms and ammunition in relation to a single, isolated mental health commitment was unconstitutional under a Second Amendment as-applied challenge. The Third Circuit’s decision, although not addressing mental health commitments, further supports the Middle District’s analysis and conclusion.

We at Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., are here to help you restore your Second Amendment Rights. If you want to discuss your past prohibiting offense and whether to file a federal challenge, contact us today!

 

 

 

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