Friday, December 3, 2010

N.J. gunowner obeys law; is convicted, imprisoned

From an NRA online newsletter, I learned the following:

"In a case that has drawn national attention, a New Jersey gun owner has been sentenced to seven years in prison for having two unloaded, cased handguns in his car trunk while moving to a new home.

"In January 2009, Brian Aitken had recently returned to New Jersey after living in Colorado, and was in the middle of moving from one residence in New Jersey to another, when a concerned family member called police in response to a comment he’d made about his personal life. A search of Aitken’s car by the police revealed two handguns. The handguns—legally purchased in Colorado—were unloaded and contained in a locked box inside a duffel bag. (Aitken was being careful during his move; in fact, he’d contacted the New Jersey State Police to learn about the state’s requirements.)

"Despite his care, Aitken was arrested and prosecuted under New Jersey gun laws, which are highly restrictive and even more highly confusing. In New Jersey, it is generally illegal to possess a handgun without a “permit to carry,” but there are many exceptions to the requirement, such as possession in the home. One of the exceptions allows transportation of an unloaded and cased firearm “between one place of business or residence and another when moving.”

"Unfortunately for Aitken—who refused to accept a plea bargain because he believed he had done nothing wrong—the judge in the case refused to instruct the jury about the exceptions, despite repeated requests from Aitken’s attorney and even from the jury itself. Lacking that information, the jury convicted Aitken and he received a harsh prison sentence."

My first question is, who the heck was the judge??? Then-Superior Court Judge James Morley. (From Aitken's blog comes the following sentence, "Six days later Governor Christie decided not to reappoint Judge James Morley for his misconduct in 2 other cases where Judge Morley sympathized with an off duty police officer who molested farm animals.")

And my second question is, who is the jerk of a family member who called the police? His mother!

I've got news for Mr. Aitken. I wouldn't have pled guilty, either.

Did he have the best legal defense? Or did he just have the best "that he could afford"? There is a difference - an important difference. And you see it played out right here in McHenry County.

It's possible to spend a lot of money on your defense, and then have your attorney(s) bail on you when you run out of money. And then another set of attorneys takes your case and does a lousy job in court. Result? You're out all the money, and you get convicted, anyway.

Check out Brian's website at and a Facebook page for "Free Brian Aitken". You can donate to Brian's appeal fund through a PayPal link on his website.


Harvard Blog said...

He was not "moving." He had moved. His roommate testified that they had shared a Hoboken apartment since June 2008, and that he had seen the guns at the apartment in September 2008. Aitken's mother testified he had been living in Hoboken and working in New York City since June 2008. This incident occurred in January 2009.

Read the trial transcript. Your "facts" are incorrect.

Gus said...

From Aitken's blog, "He had just moved back to an apartment in Hoboken that he had moved out of a month earlier ..."

And, further, "Several witnesses, including the arresting officer, testified that not only did Brian have multiple residences but that his car was packed with his personal belongings–so much so that it took the police 2 hours and 39 minutes before they found Brian’s guns locked and unloaded in the trunk of his car, exactly as NJ law dictates."

Harvard Blog said...

I guess you went to a different law school that taught application of statutes differently. I prefer trial transcripts to the convicted felon's blog

Harvard Blog said...

perhaps the law school you went to teaches reliance on a convicted felon's blog vs. the transcript.

Dave Labuz said...

Yep, them guns is EEEEEvil!

Gus said...

Especially when packed under 2 1/2 hours of gear in a car.

I'll have to remember to stay out of N.J., when I travel. I would have assumed I could transport an unloaded, cased weapon in the trunk of my car.

Oh, I know. "Officer, I'm moving and this is my home."

Dave Labuz said...

Wow! Two and a half hours away from TERROR!

More than enough time to find to find a public accommodation before I wet my pants!

Hope Gov. Christie takes a look at this soon!

Dave Labuz said...

Gee, thanks Mom!

That's a lovely bullet-proof vest you're wearing, Mrs. Cleaver!

mark beeson said...

Why does anyone want this man in jail when they are letting out far more dangerous people every day to make room. Perhaps a fine would have been appropriate here.