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View Full Version : Magnus v US; Superior Court of DC, Jan 6, 2011


Librarian
01-06-2011, 1:07 PM
h/t Dave Hardy (http://armsandthelaw.com/)

Decision here (http://www.dcappeals.gov/dccourts/appeals/pdf/09-CO-1312+_MTD.PDF).

Noted for a DC court taking Heller seriously.

This seems pretty technical, mostly about whether Magnus can raise 2nd Amendment protection via Heller now when he was convicted of gun possession in DC in 1996.
Before REID and GLICKMAN, Associate Judges, and NEWMAN, Senior Judge.
GLICKMAN, Associate Judge: In December 1996, appellant Dave Magnus entered unconditional pleas of guilty to charges of carrying a pistol without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition. The charges were based on evidence that he possessed handguns and handgun ammunition in his home. Magnus was sentenced to a one- year term of probation, and he took no appeal. Eleven years later, however, in District of Columbia
v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that the District’s general ban on possession of usable handguns
in the home violated the Second Amendment. Magnus moved to set aside his convictions, arguing inter alia that in light of Heller, his guilty pleas were invalid because he was misinformed of what the government would have to prove in order to convict him, constitutionally, of the charged crimes. The trial court denied him relief, primarily on the ground that Magnus had waived his Second Amendment claims by pleading guilty.

On appeal, Magnus contends the trial court erred in denying his claims without a hearing. We agree.

choprzrul
01-06-2011, 1:34 PM
Good stuff.

Does this help to kick open the door to overturning a slew of gun convictions pre-Heller/McDonald?

.

Patrick-2
01-06-2011, 1:40 PM
Good stuff.

Does this help to kick open the door to overturning a slew of gun convictions pre-Heller/McDonald?

.

Only if he wins.

DC will argue that because he never applied for the permit, he is not allowed to contest his conviction. But that is on thin ice given that the DC council banned the permit system when he was convicted.

wash
01-06-2011, 1:47 PM
I really hope that he is otherwise clean.

Making a prohibited person not prohibited because his prohibition was based on breaking an unconstitutional law sounds like a great idea to me.

E Pluribus Unum
01-06-2011, 1:56 PM
That's where the logic of the whole thing escapes me.


In my view, if a law is found to be unconstitutional, all previous convictions of that law should be automatically expunged without exception. That is not how it works, however.

Window_Seat
01-06-2011, 2:08 PM
In Herrington v. United States,¹² we held that the Second Amendment similarly protects possession of handgun ammunition in the home, and that a UA prosecution for such conduct is unconstitutional unless the government proves the defendant was disqualified from exercising his Second Amendment rights. Because these decisions place certain conduct covered by the CPWL, UF, and UA statutes “beyond the power of the criminal law-making authority to proscribe”,¹³ they apply retroactively to all criminal cases, including those in which the convictions have become final and unreviewable on direct appeal.¹⁴

¹² 6 A.3d 1237 (D.C. 2010)
¹³ Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 620 (1998) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted).
¹⁴ Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 348, 351-52 (2004); Bousley, 523 U.S. at 620-21.


So we might be able to say that it's almost inevitable that his conviction is overturned, no?

Erik.

uyoga
01-06-2011, 3:12 PM
Reason and logic (and some law, too) would dictate that this conviction should be overturned.

press1280
01-06-2011, 5:13 PM
Only if he wins.

DC will argue that because he never applied for the permit, he is not allowed to contest his conviction. But that is on thin ice given that the DC council banned the permit system when he was convicted.

DC may indeed try this and say he had a "chance" of getting a CCW, even though its pretty much common knowledge DC didn't issue permits. MD's AG Gansler said as much in the Williams
oral arguments, saying he saw the file cabinets where the CCWs were kept, and the drawer was empty.

Patrick-2
01-07-2011, 7:23 AM
If he is not otherwise prohibited, his conviction should be overturned and expunged.

I think DC may argue the "should have asked for a permit" route, but this could backfire on them quickly. The Supreme Court in Heller noted in dicta that nobody asked them whether the permit for home possession requested by Heller was even required, so they are deferring that decision until the question is asked.

DC saying he should have asked for a permit opens the door to a challenge not only on the fact they had a policy to not issue permits, but if pressed hard enough opens the door to a challenge of the entire permit itself.

Note that Chicago was careful on that one.

Eventually the home permit (not a public carry permit) will be challenged. I suspect it will be ruled unconstitutional. I also think carry permits will be held constitutional, but for different reasons.

cmichini
01-07-2011, 9:07 AM
Reason and logic (and some law, too) would dictate that this conviction should be overturned.

Reason, logic, equity and justice have absolutely nothing to do with the US legal system (federal or states).

sholling
01-07-2011, 3:16 PM
In my view, if a law is found to be unconstitutional, all previous convictions of that law should be automatically expunged without exception. That is not how it works, however.
That's because we have a system run by lawyers for the enrichment of lawyers that's completely lost sight of duty to protect the rights of all individuals.

NightOwl
01-07-2011, 3:36 PM
That's where the logic of the whole thing escapes me.


In my view, if a law is found to be unconstitutional, all previous convictions of that law should be automatically expunged without exception. That is not how it works, however.

I know it's not how it works, but I agree with you. Would also make sense to me that, if it was found that a law didn't actually pass all convictions based on it and all further enforcement of said law would end, as well as striking it from the books. Strange how that's not the case either.

curtisfong
01-12-2011, 1:25 PM
Interesting commentary from volokh here

http://volokh.com/2011/01/06/highest-court-in-d-c-allows-second-amendment-challenges-to-long-ago-convictions-for-violating-d-c-handgun-ban/
Magnus v. U.S., decided today by the D.C. Court of Appeals — essentially the D.C. equivalent of a state supreme court — concludes that a defendant who pled guilty in 1996 to violating D.C. handgun ban can now have that plea set aside given D.C. v. Heller, assuming his conduct was indeed protected by the Second Amendment (and didn’t, for instance, involve the possession of a gun to facilitate an illegal drug transaction). “A conviction for conduct that is not criminal, but is instead constitutionally protected, is the ultimate miscarriage of justice,” and a defendant can therefore ask to have it set aside (via a petition for coram nobis relief) even many years later.

Librarian
01-12-2011, 3:57 PM
Note also that Don Kilmer has filed a doc with the Nordyke court (9th Circ) referring to this, and Alan Gura has similarly used it in the Bateman/North Carolina case.
Oops.

Corrected by krucam, below.

krucam
01-12-2011, 5:11 PM
Note also that Don Kilmer has filed a doc with the Nordyke court (9th Circ) referring to this, and Alan Gura has similarly used it in the Bateman/North Carolina case.

What you're referencing is the 4th Ckt's US v Chester case, not this in the DC Court of Appeals.

It gets confusing enough here in MD where I live, 60 miles from the District, 90 miles from Richmond (4th Ckt). :)