St. Louis Judges Reject Gun Court, Agree to Faster Revolving Door

One common lament among members of the Armed Intelligentsia is that liberals don’t enforce the gun laws that are already on the books. Why do you want new toys when you’re not playing with the ones you already have? A recent article in my hometown newspaper revealed that among a sample of 200 suspects . . .

  • On average, each had been arrested 11 times.
  • Among those who were felons (about 124) there were 500 convictions
  • Among the felons, they had an average of four convictions each
  • Within this sample it took an average four arrests per conviction

Taking a break from carping about needing still more gun laws on the books, local leaders have actually been looking at how our judges do business. Apparently there’s a great disparity in the way offenses involving firearms are handled in The Gateway City. One judge might throw the book at a thug for an illegal firearm possession charge or a crime with a gun while another plays catch and release.

I was a juror in a trial in which the defendant was accused of a home invasion, kidnapping and armed criminal action. Part of the evidence was a fingerprint card. On the back of the card, it indicated that this set of prints had been taken when the defendant was picked up on a gun possession charge a few months before. From the time the system released the accused individual on the gun possession beef, he had (allegedly) graduated to home invasion and armed criminal action. In other words, the judge, prosecutor or whomever decided to stall on the gun possession rap set some unsuspecting victim up for a terrifying home invasion.

Our city’s leaders, in an uncharacteristic fit of good sense, proposed the establishment of a special gun court called the Armed Offender Docket, in which two circuit judges would do nothing but try gun cases. No more judge shopping. If adopted, all gun cases – from possession on up – would be moved to the front of the line and the cases tried before judges who aren’t juggling armed robberies, potheads caught with a dime bag or immigrants selling Rolex knock-offs at the VP Fair (all actual cases for which I went through the voire dire process).

In a characteristic fit of…poor judgement…the jurists voted 16 to 11 against setting up the special docket. While they agreed to move gun cases to the head of the line, the same judges whose collective work has yielded 124 criminals with 500 convictions back out on the streets will continue to screw up, they’ll just do it a little faster.

St. Louis is a one party liberal-ish city. Unlike so many of our neighbors to the north and east, our brand of machine Democrats are demonstrably less foolish (hell, even the Occupy St. Louis hippies are pro-2A). On top of that, they have to contend with a state capital dominated by honest-to-goodness rural types who provide a counterbalance to most of their more idiotic lefty impulses.

My black neighbors suffer a disproportionate number of crimes. In the trial where we convicted the defendant of home invasion and armed criminal action, both the victim and the perpetrator were black. The victim went through an enormous amount of trouble to seek justice the right way – in a court of law. They underwent the deposition process, took off work, came to court and let the defense besmirch their character.

A swift, sure means of dealing with gun crimes would go a long way toward helping these beleaguered citizens regain control of their streets. You’d think that the monolithic support these Democrats receive from the folks most affected by gun violence would merit better solutions rather than more of the same, only faster.

Alas and alack, liberals can be counted on for one thing when it comes to gun crime – not taking it seriously.

25 Responses to St. Louis Judges Reject Gun Court, Agree to Faster Revolving Door

  1. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    Did they ask the thug where he went to high school? (It is a st louis joke).

    Actually, the problem w the gun court is $$$ – the judges want to make sure there is funding for a new court apparatus and backfilling for their brethren who move over. I suspect the liberal governor is behind this, just as he wants to merge the city with the county (hell no!!). As a resident of west county, I say screw the extra cash and make due.

    By the way Tim – you should report how the st louis police chief is trying to game the city’s crime stats by incorporating them with the county’s to make the murder rate drop. Now that is criminal.

  2. avatarPeterC says:

    In a more perfect world, armed home invaders would be too dead to qualify for trial.

  3. avatarjeff says:

    Sort of OT but related to the mention of pro-2a Occupy members: at every large pro-2a demonstration I have been to here in WA state, the Occupy guys are there, and are pro-2a. Maybe they all are not this way, but I remember specifically seeing a group of early 20-somethings with dreadlocks and Guy Fawkes masks that I was sure were going to cause trouble, until I realized they were all OCing pistols.

    There is a lot of overlap in the Occupy groups with libertarian politics. unfortunately a lot of them are staunch gun-grabbing hippies, too.

  4. avatarSkyler says:

    I think this is a terrible idea. A court dedicated to firearms violations is only going to generate more laws to enforce ridiculous firearms violations.

    Complaining about not enforcing existing laws ranks right up there with blaming video games when it comes to dumb ideas. There are a lot of bad gun laws, and almost nine that are good.

    • avatarChuckN says:

      I disagree. Many judges earn every bit of hate they receive for lax
      punishments. Yes there are bad gun laws, and this special court
      wouldn’t have improved much if anything. But they still don’t
      enforce them, and It’s not just gun crimes either. This past year I
      helped put away a serial arsonist. The man had already served
      only 5 years of a 20 year sentence (also for arson) and was out
      on probation. He was caught and convicted of 7 counts of felony
      arson. He spent a grand total of 9 months in a county jail and was
      then released by the judge. There was no mention of his ongoing
      probation. Ask your local LEOs, I’m sure one can fill you in on all
      the utter crap judges (and DAs) routinely pull, allowing really bad
      guys back into the world.

      • avataruncommon_sense says:

        Of course, that is job security for them. (It is job security for law enforcement as well.)

        Sadly, there is no real incentive for District Attorneys and Judges to serve justice. If they did, a lot of them would start losing jobs as we all collectively cleaned up the trash.

        There is something oddly consoling to all of this though. Droves of citizens are fed up and they are telling their elected representatives to pull the plug on the purse. This forces governmental units to reduce law enforcement staffing. And that means more citizens are arming themselves and making sure that criminal thugs are not walking away to commit more crimes.

        Once again, government is not the solution. It always comes back to concerned citizens taking action.

      • avatarJeremyR says:

        Rewrite the sentencing guidelines. mandatory minimum, 15 lashes for a first felony offense. Mandatory castration on a second felony conviction with brass knuckle anesthesia. If the first offense is sufficiently more serious, make it 25 lashes, and if hte second is sufficiently more serious, put in a catheter, then aply a sheep band, then cut it off right below the band. How many guys want to go back to the hood with out their package? Their bro’s in th gang will think a little longer and harder about what crimes are worth the risk.For women it would be more physically harsh, but less stigma. complete histerectomy . Yes, I’m a mean jerk, but it might work.

        • avatarChuckN says:

          I think you’d see even more movement if your rules were
          applied to judges who fail to follow even minimum sentencing
          or give probation to repeat (see continual) offenders.

        • avatarJeremyR says:

          Chuck, How do you castrate a worm? (In other words, I agree).

  5. avatarMosinfan says:

    The revolving door has a lot to do with the witness/victim(s) testimony. If no one testifies against the thug, they get the minimum sentencing.

    From personal experience: the thug that carjacked me was looking at 3 months probation for his offense (his 5th recorded brush with the law) if I just let the court handle it. I pushed for a trial, attended all hearings, and testified. He is now serving his 13th year of a 15 year sentence.

    • avatarHasdrubal says:

      Sorry to hear about that, but surprised there would have been even probation for the guy if you hadn’t pushed the issue. Here in WA, if we can’t convince a victim to be a part of the process, then there’s no court procedure at all besides the prosecutor sending me an email that says “thank you for your report, but we decline to file this case.”

    • avatarDirk Diggler says:

      What are your plans in 2 yrs assuming he is a little bitter over his state mandated “time out” ?

    • avatarTim McNabb says:

      A fair point about witnesses, but having a gun court will speed the process up – at least in theory.

  6. avatarTom in Oregon says:

    It’s not a criminal justice system, it’s a court system. After a person gets arrested, he has the right to a speedy trial. Usually within 30 days. The defense typically waves this right. A good percentage of these defendants have court appointed attorneys, so it’s delayed time and again. In the mean time, they get released or post bail, so they are free to roam and commit more crimes, because that’s all they know. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Over crowding in the jails, understaffing in the DA’s office and the defense teams…
    The system is broken. Broken bad.
    Usually things only get corrected when a judge becomes a victim.

  7. avatarLeadbelly says:

    St. Louis is comparatively liberal, but it’s an old fashioned AFL-CIO, UAW, UMW organized labor sort of liberal – at least by comparison with the Northeast.

    I was born, raised, and lived in North St. Louis and the Central West End until moving to the burbs in my fifties. I was, in the sixties, a genuine “Hippie”, and I’ve been a semi-professional musician ever since.

    It’s really hard to assign tags like “liberal”, “conservative”, or “radical” to folks in a historic, geographic, and cultural border town like St. Louis.

    To the extent that there has been a “Left” here for the last fifty years, I’ve been around, if not always a part of it. And, you know what – old hippies, civil rights activists, Occupy activists, Democrats – scarcely a one of them ever makes a significant fuss about Evil Guns. It’s almost a Litmus test for whether a “Liberal” is a native or an immigrant from a more “sophisticated” conurbation.

    As for me and my old hippie-folksinger-lefty friends? Hunters, CCW holders, IDPA shooters – probably a higher proportion than in the general population.

    In some circles in St. Louis, Liberal still just means “in favor of Liberty”.

    • avatarTim McNabb says:

      I’ve noticed that about my fellow St. Loiuisans. Generally, I think Mayor Slay is head and shoulders above your typical Democrat mayor of a major city. Still, he mouths all the fashionable tropes about gun control and gun bans.

  8. avatarAndy says:

    To PeterC,my world is not perfect but I can tell you that if a home invader comes into my residence,the judges won’t have to worry about the scumbag even being in they’re court,all they will see is the perps name in an obituary.In Mississippi we have the Castle Doctrine,which I am sure most of ya’ll know this law,and I would use it with much enthusiasm.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.

  9. avatarDon says:

    If people started taking “gun crime” seriously, the cost of college students’ pot and pills, and lawyers and executives’ cocaine would go up. Can’t have that!

  10. avatarMediocrates says:

    what’s the point of keeping armed and violent felons locked up, when non-violent victimless felons are such easy targets and keeps the Federal slush money coming in for things like SWAT teams and MRAPs?

  11. avatarMatt in FL says:

    Thanks for the post, Tim.

  12. avatarShaky Dave says:

    My personal experience with the St. Louis County criminal justice system: around five years ago, a secretary embezzled around $50,000 from my business. Caught her red-handed. In coordination with the bank’s fraud prevention unit, we put together what was literally an air-tight case file composed of the checks she washed, affidavits from the other employees, and voice recordings of her apologizing for it over the phone (legal in Missouri). And trotted down to the police department.

    The detective assigned to the case said he would go to her house and take her statement for the prosecuting attorney. He said that when and if the prosecuting attorney decided to obtain a grand jury indictment, I would be notified. A few days later he reported that she had signed a full confession admitting to washing nine checks, but in the St. Louis Metro Area, crime levels had increased to the point that unless there is a body on the ground or in the hospital, nothing happens until you are indicted, at which point you are notified by mail to come to the Justice Center and turn yourself in for booking.

    Five months later, the prosecuting attorney ran the case past the grand jury and obtained an indictment on one count instead of nine. The woman turned herself in, was booked, jailed, and the Public Defender was appointed. She was in jail about six weeks, unable to make bond, and released for the Holidays. Her PD worked a deal with the prosecutor for five years’ probation and restitution, but at least she carries a felony conviction for stealing so it shouldn’t happen to a reasonably careful next guy.

    On top of all that, despite the County Prosecutor’s fancy-ass Victim Protection program that calls for input at every stage and full notification and opportunity to be heard, blah blah, and we got nothing. We wouldn’t have been at the sentencing if we didn’t know how to read the system. We got no explanation on why one count instead of nine, other than “I don’t do the grand jury. That’s a different prosecutor.” Nobody asked what we thought before entering the plea bargain. So on and so forth. It was a totally unsat experience.

    I was a Prosecuting Attorney or an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for seven years, and didn’t run my office like that.

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