Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What's a Felon to Do?

Sometimes you end up losing, no matter what you do.

John Mooney (the felon) returns home (which he shares with his crazy ex wife) from his job at a bar. He makes dinner, and goes into the master bedroom to eat. Crazy ex wife, Florencia "Sandy" McCloud, pulls out a .38 and presses it against Mr. Mooney's temple. This was not the first time crazy ex wife had pointed a firearm at Mooney. Mr. Mooney disarms crazy ex wife. Mooney hurriedly stood up and called his boss Terry Whisman at Whisman’s Bar to say that his ex-wife had pulled the gun on him again and that he was bringing it in to hand it over to the police. Mr. Mooney then makes two attempts to call 911, both times crazy ex wife hangs up. There are recordings of these phone calls. Mooney takes handgun and leaves the house, heading for the bar where he can call the police in peace. After Mooney leaves, crazy ex wife calls police and reports Mooney in possession of a handgun. Mooney gets to the bar, the police get to the bar, Mooney gets arrested.

No problem, right? Mooney felt his life was in danger, disarmed his crazy ex wife, and was obviously attempting to turn the handgun in to the authorities. After everything settled down, he should have been released with maybe a bit of advice about shaking up with crazy ex wives.

Too bad that is not how it worked out. Mr. Mooney was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and received a 15 year sentence.

Even though Mooney insisted that he was innocent of the charge in the circumstances, he pleaded guilty because his appointed counsel advised him that there was no defense to a felon-in-possession charge.

At his sentencing hearing on May 12, 2003, Mooney sought to withdraw his guilty plea on the basis that he "did something that was right" and was innocent of the charge. But Mooney’s counsel expressed his disagreement with Mooney and advised the court that "the elements of this [felon-in-possession] offense [do not] allow for us to make that [justification] argument in front of the jury." The district court denied Mooney’s request to withdraw his guilty plea, reasoning that once Mooney walked out of the house with the gun, he "committed a crime" for which there was no justification...
The good news is that Mooney served only 4 of his 15 years. A third year law student from Wake Forest University School of Law got his conviction overturned.

Mooney may be a goblin of the worst sort, he may deserve to still be behind bars for the crime that caused him to be defined as a felon, but this conviction was... a load of bunk.

H/T to The Volokh Conspiracy


Fits said...

The justification was of course the attempt to save his life. Good laws are never suicide pacts, and thats why we use people do the judging and not a computer that lists the laws and cranks out Innocent or Guilty verdicts.

AlanDP said...

"Felon in possession" laws are bull. If they have served their time and allegedly "paid their debt to society," they shouldn't be treated like second-class sub-citizens for the rest of their lives.

If they can't be trusted with a gun, if they can't be trusted to vote, if they can't be trusted to live within 1000 feet of a school, they shouldn't be loose on the streets.

Anonymous said...

Bugs Bunny said it best....."dames is trouble."