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Thomas Brown v Illinois State Police


Molly B.
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This case is another example I am of the opinion a person should file for a pardon before appealing a FOID denial or revocation in court.  The IL Attorney General's office always argues for dismissal of the case because, without an attempt to seek a pardon, they argue not all other remedies have been sought prior to court appeal.  It will be interesting to see how the IL Supreme Court rules on this case.

 

There are other important points in this case that can be read here.

Video and audio of oral arguments.

 

 
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Friday, September 17, 2021

Defendant seeks ruling on whether civil rights were restored by California statute

By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
jnowicki@capitolnewsillinois.com

 

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court is being asked to consider the laws of the state of California and the U.S. Constitution in ruling on one man’s eligibility to be issued a Firearm Owners Identification card by the Illinois State Police.

 

The high court heard oral arguments Thursday morning in Springfield in Thomas Brown v. the Illinois State Police, a case in which Brown is seeking to have his FOID rights restored so that he can participate in target shooting, hunting and be able to defend himself, according to a court filing.

 

Brown was a FOID cardholder for several years, most recently applying for and being granted renewal in 2013. But in 2016, he tried to purchase a gun at a federal firearm licensee, leading the Illinois State Police to conduct a background check. That unearthed a 2001 conviction in California on a “misdemeanor offense of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse” that he did not disclose on his FOID application, according to a filing before the Supreme Court. . .

 

In a 2020 case, Johnson v. the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled gun ownership is a “civil right” in terms of the federal provision, a precedent cited heavily in Brown’s court filings.

Brown’s attorney, James R. Angel of Princeton’s May, May, Angel & Harris, is primarily asking the Illinois Supreme Court to interpret whether a specific California law constitutes a restoration of civil rights.  . . .

 

The state argued the constitutional question is “premature” because Brown hasn’t even attempted all non-constitutional alternatives for rectifying the denial, including seeking pardon or expungement.  . . .

 

Brown’s case originated in Putnam County, where the court awarded him the FOID card and stated he had met the qualifications in the FOID statute. Angel said that decision was made in part as a response to the positive letter from Brown’s ex-wife and because Brown’s current wife has guns in their home with a court’s permission, indicating a lack of danger because no incidents have occurred.

The state appealed to the 3rd District Appellate Court, which reversed the Putnam County decision in a 2-1 vote. . .

 

“The exception (to federal law) cannot apply in this case, however, because Brown's California conviction was never expunged or set aside, Brown was never pardoned for that conviction, and Brown never had his civil rights revoked and restored in California as a result of that conviction,” he wrote.

 

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

Update!!  Another win in the Illinois Supreme Court  - rules in favor of Thomas Brown!

https://capitolnewsillinois.com/NEWS/state-supreme-court-rules-on-pair-of-gun-cases#new_tab

 

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Gun rights are civil rights

 

A 2020 ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court which declared gun rights to be civil rights was key to a Thursday decision which restored Putnam County man Thomas Brown’s right to a FOID card.

 

Brown was a FOID cardholder for several years, most recently applying for and being granted renewal in 2013. But in 2016, he tried to purchase a gun at a federal firearm licensee, leading the Illinois State Police to conduct a background check. That unearthed a 2001 conviction in California on a “misdemeanor offense of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse” that he did not disclose on his FOID application, according to a court filing.

 

California law provides that after a period of 10 years a person convicted of a misdemeanor can no longer be penalized for gun possession. Brown’s lawyers argued that because Brown was eligible to own a gun in California after 10 years, that means he had his “civil rights restored,” satisfying a specific exemption in federal law that allows for his gun ownership.

 

The court agreed, stating that “California law does not apply to Brown in a vacuum,” and he does not have to show an “affirmative statement of restoration” from the state of California in order to show that he had his civil rights restored.

 

The court dismissed ISP’s argument that that Brown should have sought a pardon from the California governor to receive an affirmative statement of restoration, stating Brown would have needed a pardon only if the firearm ownership prohibition was still in effect in California.

 

The fact that California does not consider gun ownership a civil right did not matter in this case, because, the court wrote, “this court unanimously concluded (in the 2020 Johnson case) that restoration of firearm rights under the FOID Card Act constitutes ‘civil rights restored’ for purposes of federal law”

 

It was necessary for Brown to show that he satisfied that exception in federal law, because the state’s FOID Act specifically states that granting relief to a person who is appealing their denial cannot be done in violation of federal law.

 

Outside of that question, the Supreme Court determined that the Putnam County court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Brown met all the other criteria to have his gun rights restored.

 

The Supreme Court noted it had to rule only on whether the circuit court abused its discretion in determining whether Brown met the criteria, which also state that an applicant must not be dangerous and that granting them a FOID card cannot be against the public interest.

 

“Again, our sole task is to determine whether the trial court’s decision was arbitrary, fanciful, or one that no reasonable person would make,” the court wrote. “Not only was the trial court’s decision not arbitrary, fanciful, or one that no reasonable person would make, it was well supported by the evidence.”

 

ISP had argued that granting Brown a FOID card would be against the public interest, citing his 2001 arrest, a 2005 DUI conviction in Bureau County, a 2005 arrest for battery in LaSalle County that did not lead to criminal charges, and a 1997 conviction for misdemeanor assault that occurred when he was a minor.

 

But the Supreme Court determined none of those cases indicated he would be a danger, particularly in light of a letter from Brown’s ex-wife, the victim of the 2001 incident, which indicated “that no weapon was involved in the incident, she was not injured, nor did she believe that Brown intended to injure her.”

 

The fact that Brown omitted the 2001 conviction from his 2013 FOID application could be overlooked as well, according to the court, because he was “under the impression that the charge in California was disposed of with court supervision and that, if he completed his sentence without incident, that was the last he would hear of the matter.”

 



 

Brown v. Illinois State Police, 2021 IL 126153.pdf

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