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May 9, 2011

Opinion Should Put an End to Judge’s 15 Years of Attacks on Firearms Industry

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the only cases to reach appellate court arising from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2006 civil lawsuits against out-of-state firearms retailers that interfered with as many as 18 ongoing criminal investigations.

Not surprisingly, Mayor Bloomberg filed those cases in federal district court in Brooklyn, N.Y., before his handpicked judge, Jack B. Weinstein.

While the appellate court ruled the defendants’ strategy of avoiding the charade of a “trial” before Judge Weinstein where the outcome would be a forgone conclusion resulted in their waiver and forfeiture of jurisdictional defenses, Judge Richard Wesley wrote a scathing concurring opinion rebuking Judge Weinstein’s made-up “firearms industry” personal jurisdiction jurisprudence.

Our industry has long complained that Judge Weinstein has twisted the law on personal jurisdiction and violated the constitutional rights of members of our industry in order to assert his control over how firearms are sold and marketed throughout the United States, usurping the constitutional role of congress and state legislatures.

Finally, after more than 15 years of Weinstein dragging members of the firearms industry into his courtroom based on his unique, industry-specific personal jurisdiction jurisprudence, someone on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has had an opportunity to expose Judge Weinstein’s improper and unconstitutional analysis used to advance his attack on our industry.

Weinstein’s attack — aided by trial lawyers financed by the likes of George Soros, gun control groups and anti-gun politicians like mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg — began in 1995 with a case called Hamilton. The Hamilton case was ultimately unsuccessful and dismissed.

Judge Wesley was at the time a member of the New York Court of Appeals (the highest state court in New York) when he wrote the Hamilton v Beretta U.S.A. decision (personal jurisdiction was not an issue in the appeal) that members of the firearms industry are not liable for the harm caused by the criminal misuse of lawfully sold firearms.

Judge Wesley’s concurring opinion last week validates our industry’s long-standing objections. We only wish it had it come 15 years earlier. Hopefully the days of members of our industry being improperly dragged into Judge Weinstein’s courtroom are behind us.

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