Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Dear Governor Awesome (by whom I mean New Jersey Governor Chris Christie): It is well-documented by now that I am one of your biggest fans. Indeed, I claim credit for the first online use of the "Governor Awesome" moniker, which has now spread far and wide. I would consider it a huge favor if you would free Brian Aitken. Not only does his conviction probably violate the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, it makes me sick.
Here is Brian's web page.
Reading the difference in gun laws between the two states is quite alerting.
The gun control advocate's concern about hollow-point bullets is a little disconcerting: the man received a brutal sentence of seven years. Off hand, I can guess some gruesome offenses that receive less penalty than that.
How righteous do these advocates think they are?
OK, now we've heard the defendant's side of the case. A jury that heard both sides convicted him. Why? If his conviction violates the constitution, why does he not point this out to an appeals court? If the sentence is truly illegal, there is a much bigger problem with the NJ Court system than with this one case. Why not address the bigger issue?
The fact that you think that your past wholehearted support for Governor Awesome should somehow make your clemency endorsement more persuasive offends me. I don't suppose there are any inner-city Camdenites who could make an argument for wrongful conviction. Do they have influential supporters?
The inner-city unfortunates should be given the same treatment as this man: if they own guns legally and are transporting them to a new place, this level of the law should not be applied.
I have a good feeling they are being mistreated as bad as this or worse, but, as you say or I believe, there is no light shed on the proceedings.
Finally, it offends me that you are are offended at someone appealing for clemency if they think a person has been wronged.
Mea Culpa. But the only clemencies I have ever seen were handed out to those with influential friends. I suppose that is coincidence.
I know nothing about this case other than one side's PR blitz, but from experience in law enforcement I know that usually when an angry husband in possession of a firearm mutters something to his mother about lethal violence, it ends up with a wife and chidren dead before the (usually ineffective) suicide gesture.
Then again, it is entirely possible that Aitgen's conduct had no aggravating factors and that he is merely the victim of overzealous cops, prosecutors and judges in New Jersey who did not have enough real crime to keep them amused, so they thought it would be fun to frame this guy. Sure.
Something doesn't add up....
*His visit with his kid gets cancelled so his mother calls 911? Hmmmm.
*The cops arrive at the residence even though the mother never actually spoke with the 911 operator, and when Brian arrives back home, the cops search the trunk of his car and retrieve guns inside a box stuffed in a duffel bag???? Say what?
*His mother and best friend testify at trial but Brian chooses not to take the stand at a trial based on seemingly bogus charges AND his lawyer doesn't raise the exemption statute until closing argument??? Jesus. He should get a new trial for stupidity alone. His and his lawyers.
Sorry TH. Something's rotten in Denmark.
If he was moving I'm sure a change of residence or whatnot is occurring.
Considering his mother called the cops on him, my suspicion is gonna take a little convincing, but unless they show he had intent to use weapons on someone the 7-year penalty is egregious.
You're right; something isn't right by his actions; the man could have been a bit shocked about the whole seriousness that people took his guns being in his trunk, but why didn't his lawyer at least mention that he was moving.
On my part if I was moving to a new place being a responsible gun owner (I'm not) and having lived in a place where guns are not a cause for massive fear my first few actions upon moving isn't to check the statutes for "moving exemptions" and such.
One thing to keep in mind. Judges issue instructions to the jury. Juries don't have free reign -- their job is to apply the relevant laws, with the relevant evidence. Judges can give quite strict instructions to juries. The judge *may* have instructed the jury to disregard the fact that he was moving; I'm speculating of course, but it's well within reason.
Yes, some of his behavior was a bit unusual but one phrase really hit me:
"they found two handguns, both locked and unloaded as New Jersey law requires."
Come on. Seven years?!?!?!?!? *Any* years for that matter. I'm no big RKBA guy but this is just outrageous.
So let me get this straight: The cops rifiled through his trunk, searched his duffel bag full of clothes whereupon they discovered the shoe box that housed the two handguns all because his mother *attempted* to call 911?
Forget arguing that he was moving, how about throwing out the case on 4th Amendment grounds.
With regard to the comments above about the lawyer 'not raising' the moving exemption (Old Fan etc), the Philly.com article didn't make it clear that the judge prevented the defense counsel from raising the arguement....he ruled it did not apply and barred the defense counsel from raising it in front of the jury. Other sources (reason.com etc) made that clear. This wasn't incompetence on the part of defense counsel, this was a travesty of justice by the judge. Who, it might be noted, has made the national news before for outlandish results. Christie already refused to reappoint him...so he will retire. But his absurd rulings stand.
Juries don't have free reign
Yea, they do. The concept is called jury nullification. Once the door closes, a jury is free to do pretty much whatever it pleases if it thinks a gross miscarriage of justice is happening.
Yes, jury nullification is possible, if the jurors know about it. However, most jurors don't know that they have the right to ignore the instructions, that they will suffer no adverse consequences for doing so and that the defendant can't be retried even under those circumstances. Further, defense counsel is not permitted to tell them.
Anon at 11:30 is correct. A jury cannot act on information that it does not have. If a judge has prevented the defense from even mentioning some fact, how could a jury act on that fact? The only other channel of information is outside the courtroom -- and it is illegal for jurors to learn about the case outside of the courtroom.
So yes, even if a jury has the ability to reach whatever conclusion it wants, the people in the jury are only exposed to the information that the judge wants them to be exposed to.
oh, yeah, jury nullification is a great thing and our last best hope of stopping the onrushing police state. just a coupla minor problems, though: 1)if you should mention you believe in it during pre-trial jury stacking, ("voir dire"), you'll be kicked out. the DA don't want your kind on his jury. 2) if you should answer "no" when the judge 'instructs' you, the juror, (and he has no right whatsoever to do so), to 'follow the law as i explain it to you' or some such, you'll be either kicked off the jury or - in extreme cases - find yourself in trouble for contempt, etc. (google "laura kriho")
get it straight: NObody in the legal system likes the notion that the juror is the most important guy in the courtroom, and they'll lie either intentionally or by omission to keep you from finding out. mention the initials F.I.J.A. before a trial, and you WILL NOT be seated as a juror. don't mention it and then nullify, and you could be in trouble for "lying under oath" during jury-stacking. funny how that works out, ain't it?
so be careful....