As TRPChicago says, "Each case is a story," a sketch of a major moment in someone's life. Some real person, or persons, has an important issue that they need the court to sort out.
As most of you know, I am not a lawyer, but I want to understand gun law. I like to be informed, and to make up my own mind, rather than rely on digested news. One way that I am learning which laws and which legal principles are in play is to read some of the actual cases percolating up to the Supreme Court. Some of the disputes embody all the drama and tension found in good fiction and mystery writing.
When I try to wrap my mind around the kernel of a gun lawsuit it helps to begin with a basic story outline, starting with the first W question, Who? In this diary I'll introduce the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the NYSAFE Act. I'll hold your hand as we begin to install the important features of the story into our collective "working memory."
The NY SAFE Act was discussed on Daily Kos last winter, here and here, and introduced in last week's Open Thread. This decision is the first constitutional review of the new gun law. Written by federal Judge WILLIAM M. SKRETNY in the Western District of New York, the order was filed on Tuesday, December 31, 2013, in Buffalo, New York. The NYTimes has a review of the decision.
Since I plan to write more about the NYSAFE Act, let's consider this diary the beginning of a series, Lilith's Litigation Tutorial - The NYSAFE Act (part I).
This is an Open Thread.
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Who's Who - Challenging the NY SAFE Act
In this segment of this series we'll look at who brought the suit to challenge the law. In later diaries we'll look at where they filed it, and who must answer the claims to defend the law. No matter where you stand on the spectrum of gun rights/gun regulations, organizations in your state that challenge gun laws are organizations worth knowing something about.
On the first page of the decision we see that the suit was filed in federal court, in the Western District of New York. The plaintiffs include four shooting sports clubs, four companies that make or sell guns, and three individuals. The defendants are the NY state governor (Cuomo), the NY Attorney General (Schneiderman), the Superintendent of the NY State Police, District Attorney for Genesee County, and the Police Chief of Lancaster, NY.
I wonder why, in cases like this, it is necessary to name defendants at so many different levels? I have no idea. Attorneys? Anyone? Please help us in the comments to understand this elementary aspect of litigation.
|Where the suit was filed:
|Who brought the suit: (the Plaintiffs)
|Who must respond to the claims: (the Defendents)
The lead plaintiff in this case is an organization, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, NYSRPA.
It's always helpful to do a google search on the lead organizational plaintiff. They usually have a website where they will cheerfully explain their goals and why they are challenging this specific law. The plaintiff's will have links to Amicus Briefs in support of their claim. Amicus Briefs are documents filed by "friends of the Court" who will attempt to educate the judges about the evidence and suggest case law supporting their arguments. These documents will usually state openly whether they support the plaintiffs or the defendants, or neither.
The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association is the state's largest and nation's oldest firearms advocacy organization. Since 1871, our organization has been dedicated to the preservation of Second Amendment rights, firearm safety, education and training, and the shooting sports. Our membership consists of individuals and clubs throughout the state. We are a not-for-profit 501(c)4 organization and the official NRA-affiliated State Association in New York.
The lead Plaintiff's webpage includes a timeline of the case, with links to various documents. I see they initially filed the suit last spring on March 21, 2013. That's an important anchor point to assemble a low resolution map of the story in my mind.
Here is a copy of the Court's decision - Western District of New York, December 31st.
"The Court ruled against us on guns, but dismissed 7 round limit."
NYSRPA, Lead Plaintiff
New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, NYSRPA
December 26, 2013 Update: Judge William Skretny has decided oral arguments are unnecessary and he will make his decision based upon the briefs submitted by both parties.That simple fact impresses me.
It might mean the judge decided that the briefs were well-written and complete, so well-written that they contained all the information needed to fully analyze the claims. Otherwise, the judge would have scheduled oral arguments so he could ask questions of each side, to request additional evidence or to clarify something about the law. I don't know how often that happens, but I think the attorneys are smart, they did their homework and wrote clear briefs. Their claims and evidence were focused on the issues and appropriate for the District Court level.
Next, I see at the bottom that the judge issued his opinion on December 31, 2013 and four days later they had already drafted their appeal.
8:23 PM PT: (h/t) oldpotsmuggler - I edited the diary in the middle:
1. Added an extra link to the decision, (in addition to the link at the end of the plaintiff's timeline.
2. Edited the transition to the Plaintiff's timeline to emphasize that the summary words are quoting the Lead Plaintiff ver batim, "The Court ruled against us on guns, but dismissed 7 round limit."
Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 7:58 AM PT: (h/t) blackhand - Fixed the broken link in the timeline. A draft of the Appeal is found at the plaintiff's page that logs everything that happens in the case. If you want to keep track of the case, bookmark that page.
January 3, 2014: We will appeal the court decision. [A draft of the Appeal is linked in the NYSRPA timeline for the case.