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  1. #1
    lewisipso's Avatar
    lewisipso is offline Injustice/Indifference/In God we trust
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    A New Jersey man gets seven years for being a responsible gun owner.

    Sue Aitken called the police because she was worried about her son, Brian. She now lives with the guilt of knowing that her phone call is the reason Brian spent his 27th birthday in a New Jersey prison last month. If the state gets its way, he will be there for the next seven years.

    Aitken was sentenced in August after he was convicted of felony possession of a handgun. Before his arrest, Aitken, an entrepreneur and owner of a media consulting business, had no criminal record, and it appears he made a good-faith effort to comply with New Jersey's stringent gun laws. Even the jurors who convicted him seem to have been looking for a reason to acquit him. But the judge gave them little choice. Aitken's best hope now is executive clemency. He is petitioning New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for a reprieve this week.

    Aitken, born and raised in New Jersey, moved to Colorado several years ago. In Colorado he married his now ex-wife, also originally from New Jersey. The two had a son together. When the marriage dissolved, Atiken's wife and infant son moved back to New Jersey. Aitken eventually decided to move back as well in order to be closer to his son. Beginning in late 2008, he took the first of several trips between the two states, a back-and-forth process that involved selling his house in Colorado, moving his possessions across the country, and finding a job and a new place to live back east. Until he could find a new apartment, he stored his belongings at his parents' home in Burlington County.

    In December 2008 Aitken made a final trip back to Colorado to collect the last of his possessions, including the three handguns he had legally purchased in Colorado—transactions that required him to pass a federal background check. Aitken and his friend Michael Torries had found an apartment in Hoboken, and Torries accompanied Aitken to Colorado to help with the last leg of the move. According to testimony Torries later gave at Aitken's trial, before leaving Colorado Aitken researched and printed out New Jersey and federal gun laws to be sure he moved his firearms legally. Richard Gilbert, Aitken's trial attorney, says Aitken also called the New Jersey State Police to get advice on how to legally transport his guns, although Burlington County Superior Court Judge James Morley didn't allow testimony about that phone call at Aitken's trial.

    Aitken's legal troubles began in January 2009, when he drove to his parents' house to pick up some of his belongings. He had grown distraught over tensions with his ex-wife, who according to Aitken had been refusing to let him see his son. When Aitken visited his parents' house, his mother, Sue Aitken, grew worried about his mental state. In an interview with a New Jersey radio program last week, she said she works with children who have mental health problems, and she has always been taught to call police as a precaution when someone appears despondent and shows any sign that he might harm himself. Concerned about her son, she called 911 but then thought better of it and hung up the phone. The police responded anyway. When they arrived at her home, Sue Aitken told them her concerns about her son, and the police called Brian Aitken, who was then en route to Hoboken, on his cell phone. They asked him to turn around and come back to his parents' house. He complied.

    It was there that the police confronted Aitken. Although they determined he wasn't a threat to himself or anyone else, they searched his car, where they found his handguns. They were locked, unloaded, and stored in the trunk, as federal and New Jersey law require for guns in transport. The police arrested Aitken anyway, charging him with unlawful possession of a weapon.

    To buy a gun in New Jersey, you must go through a laborious process to obtain a "purchaser's permit." But that permit doesn't entitle you to possess a gun. A few select groups of people, mostly off-duty police officers and security personnel, can obtain carry permits. But anyone else with a gun is presumed to be violating state law and must defend against the charge of illegal gun possession by claiming one of the state's exemptions.

    Evan Nappen, who is representing Aitken in his appeal, likens the process to claiming self-defense in a murder case. "If you kill someone because they're about to kill you first," he says, "you're still guilty of homicide. You have to prove you should be granted the exception for self-defense. It's the same thing for just about all New Jersey gun owners. You're guilty until you prove that you're innocent.”

    The exemptions allow New Jersey residents to have guns in their homes, while hunting or at a shooting range, while traveling to or from hunting grounds or a shooting range, and when traveling between residences. Brian Aitken claimed he was moving between residences, and there is pretty strong evidence that he was. Sue Aitken testified that her son was moving his belongings from her house to his. So did Aitken's roommate. One of the police officers at the scene testified that Aitken's car was filled with personal belongings.

    Yet Judge Morley wouldn't allow Aitken to claim the exemption for transporting guns between residences. He wouldn't even let the jury know about it. During deliberations, the jurors asked three times about exceptions to the law, which suggests they weren't comfortable convicting Aitken. Morley refused to answer them all three times. Gilbert and Nappen, Aitken's lawyers, say he also should have been protected by a federal law that forbids states from prosecuting gun owners who are transporting guns between residences. Morley would not let Aitken cite that provision either.

    In response to a query about why Aitken wasn't granted the moving exception, the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office replied via email, "There was no evidence produced at the trial by the defendant that warranted such a defense." Gilbert says that isn't true. "We put on plenty of evidence that Brian was moving," he says, "including testimony from his mother, his roommate, even the police officer who arrested him."

    Brian Aitken's Mistake - Reason Magazine
    Do not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me

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    R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012


  2. #2
    pac201's Avatar
    pac201 is offline Used up and retired
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    Hopefully he can get a new trial or at least executive clemency. Sounds like the judge is a gun hater.
    Job security...

    Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

  3. #3
    Odd's Avatar
    Odd
    Odd is offline Cosmonaut Trainer
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    Some prior decisions by Judge Morley...

    In the case of Donna Goebel, a 45-year-old teacher’s aide and mother, Morley had said he did not think she was a predator for having sex with a 16-year-old boy, basing his comment on the circumstances of the case. He also said that but for the woman being a teacher’s aide, the relationship would not have been a crime because the age of consent in New Jersey is 16.

    But Morley also stressed Thursday and in court that what Goebel did was both wrong and a crime. In October, he sentenced her to five years in prison for second-degree sexual assault, a crime that carries a five-to-10 year term.

    Morley additionally defended his September decision to toss out animal cruelty charges against the man who allegedly had oral sex with the cows. In the absence of a state law on bestiality, prosecutors had only animal cruelty charges to bring against former Moorestown officer Robert Melia. That brought Morley a dilemma.

    "I’m not saying it’s okay," he had said in court. "This is a legal question for me. It’s not a question of morals."

  4. #4
    Pudge's Avatar
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    Unbelievable.
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  5. #5
    Bob Loblaw's Avatar
    Bob Loblaw is offline Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho
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    that's messed up...
    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna
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  6. #6
    Ducky's Avatar
    Ducky is offline Enforcer General
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    Holy shit. I never figured Jersey for stupidity like that. Were the laws originally aimed at the mafia or something?
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  7. #7
    213th's Avatar
    213th is offline Solipsist
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    Unfrickinbelievable. It's horsecrap
    He who has the money, signs the cheques.
    He who signs the cheques, makes the rules.
    He who makes the rules, has the power.
    He who has the power, has the money.

  8. #8
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Gotta love this...

    Take a guy with a clean record, who's trying to do the right thing, and make him a felon. Worst interpretation: he's got them legally in the home, and he's trying to keep them out of the potential hands of drunks. Gee... that's a felony offense, huh?
    Voting against incumbents until we get a Congress that does its job.

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  9. #9
    dadyswat's Avatar
    dadyswat is offline Officer First Class
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    Where's the LEO's common sense and you wonder why some of retired guys are antsy when we carry under LEOSA?

  10. #10
    Resident Smart Ass's Avatar
    Resident Smart Ass is offline I ASK THE QUESTIONS AROUND HERE
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    The lawmakers and Judges in this State are extremely INCOMPETENT and CORRUPT!! And we deal with so much BS!
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  11. #11
    Captain America's Avatar
    Captain America is offline Reed and Malloy were my FTOs
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    Why was this case even prosecuted ??
    SI VIS PACEM PARA BELLUM

    "It's a great life. You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If your honest , your poor your whole life. And , In the end , you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star."
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  12. #12
    Five-0's Avatar
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    Why was the vehicle searched? Why wern't the totality of the circumstances admitted in the case? Why did a judge not advise jurors of a law based legal question? This stinks to high heaven.

    Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkzV5AIK8iM
    "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat

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  13. #13
    StoleIt is offline Officer First Class
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    Wow...that's RIDICULOUS.

    It's stuff like this that makes people very distrustful of laws, due process, and frankly even LEO's.

  14. #14
    snuffy2202's Avatar
    snuffy2202 is offline JUST ANOTHER TEQUILA SUNRISE
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    Two words. Move South.
    The strongest reason for the people to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against the tyranny of government.
    -Thomas Jefferson

    That is why our masters in Washington are so anxious to disarm us. They are not afraid of criminals. They are afraid of a populace which cannot be subdued by tyrants.” – Jeff Cooper'

  15. #15
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    Quote Originally Posted by lewisipso View Post
    Even the jurors who convicted him seem to have been looking for a reason to acquit him. But the judge gave them little choice.
    Not true - Jurors always have the choice of ignoring a judge's instructions. That's why we have jury trials.

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  16. #16
    Five-0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCharlie View Post
    Not true - Jurors always have the choice of ignoring a judge's instructions. That's why we have jury trials.

    Haven't seen you around in a bit......



    A Juror's power is that on a case by case decision they can decide what is fact and what is just outside of what is legislated and what is decided by public opinion.

    Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkzV5AIK8iM
    "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat

    "Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway

    The opinions given in my signatures & threads DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "Five-0" on Officerresource.com

  17. #17
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    good to be back

    Yep, but the protection built into the system I referred to is that repeated jury nullifications on a bad law has the same effect of eventually repealing the law through the application of case law - It's a legitimate way of keeping the legislature in check when the juror cannot in good concience apply a law that is contrary to the constitution, defies common sense, or has a punishment inappropriate for the crime (which also touches the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause. Cruel means more than torture or executions. It can mean that the punishment is outside the bounds of reasonable, even when the punishment is just jail time).

    I think the jury is the most powerful part of the system unless a judge has a very good reason for over-ruling them. Normally, the judge would only do that for finding someone guilty when there's obviously not enough evidence, or for jury misconduct.

    Nullification (ignoring the judges instructions or the law) isn't misconduct, as far as I'm concerned, unless there's bribery or a reason other than what the juror considered to be a bad law or bad case. Some would say different.

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  18. #18
    E-man's Avatar
    E-man is offline No bird but dog and 3 cats
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    Quote Originally Posted by lewisipso View Post
    Sue
    Yet Judge Morley wouldn't allow Aitken to claim the exemption for transporting guns between residences. He wouldn't even let the jury know about it. During deliberations, the jurors asked three times about exceptions to the law, which suggests they weren't comfortable convicting Aitken. Morley refused to answer them all three times. Gilbert and Nappen, Aitken's lawyers, say he also should have been protected by a federal law that forbids states from prosecuting gun owners who are transporting guns between residences. Morley would not let Aitken cite that provision either.
    This paragraph makes it seem like a mistrial should be granted. If a jury asks questions and they are not answered especially by the judge, then they voted on facts that weren't complete.
    The exceptions could be exculpatory, should be.
    Freakin judge has to answer to someone above him

    Do you swear to tell the truth, the WHOLE TRUTH and nothing BUT the TRUTH???

    Well, the WHOLE TRUTH wasnt presented to the jury
    A monday morning lunatic, disturbed from time to time. Temporary catatonic madman on occasion..

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  19. #19
    Xiphos's Avatar
    Xiphos is offline I Void Warranties
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    I will never even step foot in Jersey if I can help it.
    Pleasing nobody, one person at a time.

    That which does not kill me, better start fucking running.

    If I lived every day like it was my last, the body count would be staggering.

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  20. #20
    213th's Avatar
    213th is offline Solipsist
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    He has been released, sentance commuted not pardoned I believe..
    He who has the money, signs the cheques.
    He who signs the cheques, makes the rules.
    He who makes the rules, has the power.
    He who has the power, has the money.

 

 
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