Tuesday, December 2, 2008

City of Indianapolis Picks Fight With Gunowner

Gary Welsh over at Advance Indiana reports on a recent gun case filed by yours truly.

Gary has the facts correct. Police officers came into my client's house on a warrant that had the wrong address on it. During the search they officers took guns he legally owned and possessed in his house. My client tried to get his guns returned and was told that they would not release the guns until he signed a form and agreed to be fingerprinted. In Indiana, fingerprinting is not a requirement for one to own a gun in his or her own home. The City is trying to impose an additional requirement on a gunowner who had his guns improperly confiscated no less. There is absolutely no legal basis for doing that.

This is yet another example of the poor legal representation taxpayers are getting from the inexperienced leadership of City Legal. Jonathan Mayes the head of the Litigation Division for City Legal had just 2 years experience when he was appointed to his position. When it comes to litigation there is no substitute for years of experience trying cases, experience no attorney is going to have after just 2 years of litigation. Chris Cotterill head of City Legal, had just 5 years of experience when he was appointed, and I have been told, no litigation experience whatsoever. He is, of course though, a former Barnes & Thornburg attorney, which appears to be his major qualification to lead City Legal.

City Legal is in effect a good-sized law firm. Strong, experienced leadership is essential so that good decisions are made and taxpayers are not spending thousands of dollars defending lawsuits that should have been avoided. An experienced attorney seasoned in litigation would have recognized immediately the folly of trying to enforce that policy to the facts at hand and simply called up IMPD and told them to return the man's guns, thus avoiding the lawsuit. Instead of that very simple solution, the City will now not only end up returning the man's guns but will have to pay thousands of dollars to my client in legal fees he incurs in bringing the constitutional claims.

Legality aside, City Legal's attorneys should have also considered the political effect of their position on their boss Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. They now have put the Mayor in the position of taking on a gunowner, and by extension gunowners (plural), by seeking to enforce a policy that can easily go deep into litigation and end up with tons of publicity. Do you really want a Republican Mayor taking on the most loyal Republican constituency out there, those who fight to defend the Second Amendment and gunowners' rights? I have been a Republican candidate for state legislature before. I know first hand that there is no group that is better at networking than members of the NRA and other gun rights groups. Mayor Ballard will end up paying at the polls for the foolish decision City Legal has made to take on gunowners.

The Mayor appears to be getting the message that his administration needs major changes. One change that is desperately needed is to bring stronger, more experienced leadership to City Legal. leadership that not only has experience in litigation, but who exercises good professional judgment to, when possible, resolve cases before litigation. Taxpayers deserve better than to have their money thrown away defending unnecessary lawsuits because of poor decisions made by City Legal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The worst part about this is that if the gentleman wishes to fight it, he does so out of his own pocket. The city, OTOH, has the unlimited resources of every citizen's taxes upon which to draw. I think that whoever made the decision to force this man to be printed to get his guns back should be sued personally and forced to pay any legal costs out of his own pocket-that, at least, would return this to a level playing field.