Monday, November 21, 2011

Haynie v. Harris, Round II

The original case, Haynie et al v. Harris, was dismissed in late October by the US District Court for the Northern District of California because the Court said they didn't have a realistic chance of being re-arrested. The Court did give the plaintiffs leave to file an amended complaint.

While the Court was actually considering the motion to dismiss from the State of California, Brendan Richards, one of the plaintiffs, was arrested again for possession of an "assault weapon". Again the charges were dismissed after the state's expert determined that Mr. Richards' M1A was not an assault weapon under California law.

As one commenter on the CalGuns Forum said in response to the question as to what were the odds of this happening, they were "greater than unrealistic."

An amended complaint was filed on November 4th. The complaint can be read here.


For Immediate Release: 11/21/2011

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s ban on so-called “assault weapons,” claiming that the statute is “vague and ambiguous” in its definition of assault weapons, leading to the arrest of a California man on two different occasions.

SAF is joined in the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, by the CalGuns Foundation and Brendan John Richards, an honorably-discharged Marine and Iraq war veteran, who was arrested and jailed in May 2010 and August 2011. On both occasions, charges against Richards were dismissed when it was determined that he had not violated the law because firearms in his possession on both occasions were not “assault weapons” as defined by California law. They are represented by attorneys Donald Kilmer of San Jose and Jason A. Davis of Mission Viejo.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the California Department of Justice, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Greg Myers.

“It’s an insult to be arrested once for violating a law that is so vague and ambiguous that law enforcement officers cannot tell the difference between what is and what is not a legal firearm under this statute,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “but to be arrested and jailed twice for the same offense is an outrage. Brendan Richards’ dilemma is a textbook example of why the California statute should be nullified.

“On both occasions,” he continued, “Mr. Richards was jailed and had to post non-refundable bail fees. He lost work due to his incarcerations. In both cases, the same Senior Criminalist John Yount issued reports that the firearms in Richards’ possession were not ‘assault weapons’ under California law. Mr. Richards now has a reasonable fear that his exercise of his fundamental Second Amendment rights will result in more wrongful arrests. We’re delighted to step in, with the CalGuns Foundation, on his behalf.

“This nonsense has to stop,” Gottlieb stated, “and the only way to insure that is to show California’s assault weapon statutes and regulations are unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous. Brendan Richards is not the only citizen faced with this kind of harassment under color of law.”

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