Rebecca M. Coffee
UPDATE MLO SUCCESSFULLY CHALLENGES THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF LAW THAT AUTOMATICALLY BARS INDIVIDUALS FROM POSSESSING A FIREARM FOLLOWING A CIVIL COURT PROCEEDING.
In a decision today, a Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge dismissed the State's case against our client, in a case further described below. This is a victory for our client, and for our Constitutional right to possess a firearm, particularly in one's home and for protection. The law authorizes the government to place reasonable restrictions on firearms. However, Attorney Rebecca Coffee successfully argued today that a one-size-fits all prohibition on gun possession, under any and all circumstances, for individuals following a civil court proceeding was unconstitutional as applied to our client.
In Wisconsin, individuals who are subject to a domestic abuse civil injunction automatically lose their constitutional right to possess a firearm, under any circumstances, for any reason. A domestic abuse injunction is granted if a Court finds “reasonable grounds to believe” that the respondent has engaged in, or may engage in, domestic abuse of the petitioner. If a court grants the injunction, the statute automatically requires a respondent to surrender any firearms. This automatic ban does not contain any exceptions, other than for law enforcement officials, including no exceptions allowing an individual to possess a firearm for protection or self-defense in his or her home. The statute also does not make available any argument by a respondent, or finding by a court official, that the particular individual should not be subject to the automatic prohibition. Mastantuono Law Office has argued that this automatic ban of a fundamental constitutional right following a civil proceeding, violates our client’s right under the U.S. and Wisconsin Constitutions to keep and bear arms for self-defense and protection, a right recently re-affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008).
The case is currently pending before the trial court in Milwaukee. This blog will be updated with the result of the case.