Florida Judge Returns Accused Man’s Guns, Destroys His Ammo

In a well-publicized Florida case, former Marine, John Rogers, shot and killed a drinking buddy, James DeWitt in 2012. Rogers claimed he’d been attacked after he asked the man to leave. According to testimony, DeWitt charged him, giving Rogers no choice but to fire. The case gained notoriety because Rogers, who spend 22 months in jail awaiting trial, is legally blind. Then, half way through the trial, the judge dismissed the charges, ruling that Rogers was innocent under Florida’s stand your ground law . . .

Evidence showed that the dead man was shot from a distance of 18 inches, supporting Rogers account and casting doubt on the claim of DeWitt’s girlfriend, Christina Robertson, that the shooting had been unprovoked.

Friday, nearly two years after the shooting, Judge John Galluzzo reluctantly returned John Rogers’ guns. He said that he was forced to do so, because it was the law. From wesh.com:

“I have to return property that was taken under the circumstance,” Galluzzo said. “I have researched and haven’t found case law to say otherwise.”

Then, in what can only be described as a fit of petulance, Judge Galluzzo ordered all of John Rogers’ ammunition be destroyed.

Galluzzo did order that all ammunition to be destroyed. [sic] He said it was too old and dangerous.

The judge might not agree with what the law called for. It seems likely that John Rogers tends to be violent when drunk, and he seems to get drunk fairly often. But he has never crossed the law far enough to be convicted of an offense that would disqualify him from owning guns. We are a nation that is supposed to be ruled by laws, rather than men.

The destruction of the ammunition falls under the latter category. Judge Galluzzo, clearly piqued at his inability to deny John Rogers his firearms, made the unsupported claim that the ammunition was “old and dangerous”. There’s no justification in the law for destruction of such property, or any legal support for Judge Galluzzo’s actions. After spending nearly two years in jail on a now dismissed charged, it’s unlikely that John Rogers has the stomach for a legal contest with a judge over a few rounds of ammunition. The ruling appears spiteful, made simply because the judge knows he can get away with it.

The judge’s actions, in my opinion, show that he is unfit for the bench. This sort of emotional fit, under the color of law, should never be seen in court. Unfortunately, it’s seen all too often.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

comments

  1. avatar gtfoxy says:

    Good brass…. Pitty.

  2. avatar Robert Seddon says:

    They’re coming for yours next, just wait. If you do not believe me, just wait ……..

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      I believe in my soul you are absolutely correct. We all have bits of the script. And the script is very real.

      Get hip to the script.

      1. avatar Rat Rodent says:

        Everyone needs to arm up. They can’t take everyone’s guns!

    2. avatar Samuel Leoon Suggs says:

      Really dood? “Dar cumin fer yer guns”

      1. avatar TTACer says:

        Is it cumin or coriander?

        1. avatar William Burke says:

          Feeling ground up, personally.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Spicey comments.

    3. avatar Bob says:

      Monopolies never give good service. Government dispute resolution (the so-called “justice” system) is a monopoly.

  3. avatar Wood says:

    Nothing wrong with that ammo. The activist judge however needs a new line of work.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      And he knew it.

    2. avatar Jus Bill says:

      He’ll just become a law professor at some school in the Northeast or California.

  4. avatar Ralph says:

    Galluzzo did order that all ammunition to be destroyed. [sic] He said it was too old and dangerous.

    Too old and dangerous? The same can be said about Galuzzo.

  5. avatar Robert Seddon says:

    Next it will be microstamping of all brass and all bullets, then it will be NO MORE LEAD BULLETS, then it will be no more guns without electronic safety measures so only the owner of the firearm can use it ….
    make it so expensive that only the government can afford to do it ….
    which is what they want anyway, right?
    Robert Seddon
    Mineral, Va

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Reloaders, get ready. Get ready to sell a sh*t-ton or ammo in many calibers. Our hope lies with you.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      First they came for the ammunition, but I didn’t speak up because I didn’t have any ammunition.

      1. avatar Mike in NC says:

        Sounds like a catch-22 LR. */rimfire rimshot/*

  6. avatar AmericanSpirit says:

    I’d sue for the lost 22 months of my life and ignore the ammo in a heartbeat. Hefty payday there.

    I’m confident that spending nearly two years behind bars prior to any conviction (and in this case no conviction) is negligent, outrageous, inhumane and, oh-by-the-way, unconstitutional.

    That’s not even touching that dude happens to be blind.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      It’s not unconstitutional as long as he had due process and there was probable cause found… which I’m sure there was given the testimony.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        Due process cannot trump the Bill of Rights. Not ever.

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          What are you talking about? Due Process is part of the Bill of Rights. So you just wrote that the Bill of Rights can’t trump the Bill of Rights. Does that make sense to you?

          “No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

          It’s the Fifth Amendment.

        2. avatar Hannibal says:

          ^ um… yup. We can quibble on what is due process, but you can’t treat it as separate from the constitution.

      2. avatar AmericanSpirit says:

        I’m with Burke on this one.

        Inept and delayed application of justice is the same as injustice.

        (as evidenced by 22 months waiting for trial, quoted from above, prior to and regardless of outcome of trial).

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          So why didn’t his lawyer make a speedy trial motion?

        2. avatar AmericanSpirit says:

          I don’t know, unfortunately, but on the face of it those 22 months doesn’t look very good.

          Given my personal experience with the justice system, I’d say it’s likely that he had a public defender (or maybe a cycle of a few of them) rather than a personally funded lawyer – and I wouldn’t put much faith on them to go out of their way to do a genuinely good job representing their clients’ interests.

        3. avatar Jus Bill says:

          I think maybe he had the services of a PD. If so, he’s lucky he EVER was released.

        4. avatar Gyufygy says:

          Speedy trial motion? This is new to me. A request for the judge and prosecutor to hurry the hell up?

        5. avatar Tom says:

          Florida does have a speedy trial law. The trick to this is that in order for a defense attorney to adequately prepare for trial, a defendant has to waive his speedy trial rights.

        6. avatar Larry says:

          At least in the info presented here, I see no indication about which side caused the delays in the trial. I suspect it was the defendant, in which case he can’t very well sue over it. Given the facts presented, esp with the girlfriend’s testimony, I’d guess that a speedy trial (like 2 days after the fact) would have found him guilty.

    2. avatar ChuckN says:

      But due process did happen. At best, I think, Rodgers could have
      filed a writ of habeus corpus,

      1. avatar Larry says:

        I’m not a lawyer, but I watch them on TV! Doesn’t that mean something like “show us the body”? They had a body, remember?

        1. avatar Tom says:

          Larry, you’re not a Latin scholar either!

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habeas_corpus

  7. avatar cubby123 says:

    Gee did this judge go to school with the judge in the Zimmerman case?Well that must be a yes as they are in the same state and they both use immoral and iilegal tactics.Hmmmm?

  8. avatar Gordon Wagner says:

    22 months in prison? That’s a speedy trial date?

    1. avatar AmericanSpirit says:

      See above.

      Grounds for a very expensive lawsuit, amirite?

      Honestly the reason I’m freaked out every time I’m forced to interact with the police is because of stuff like this.

      “Lock ’em up, he might have broken some laws – we’ll sort it out someday, but since obviously he’s some sort of troublemaker there’s really no rush.”

      1. avatar Larry says:

        I’m thinking I must be missing something. The cops were summoned because a man was shot to death, not “he might have done something”. The deceased’s girlfriend claimed the shooting was unprovoked. They made an arrest. Where is the surprise coming from?

    2. avatar William Burke says:

      Yet nobody complains when it happens to a gang banger. Justice delayed id justice denied, no matter who experiences it.

      1. avatar AmericanSpirit says:

        I’ll complain, because I agree with you. The problem is knowing when this crap is happening instead of after the fact.

        For the same reason, indefinitely detaining “unlawful combatants” (ignoring completely the absolute absurdity of that term) is un-American and unconstitutional.

        Give ’em a fair trial and lock ’em up – and if they’re found not guilty let them go to live peacefully and let their friends know about how great America was while waiting for a few days with 3 squares and a cot (with cable!) or get another chance at being shot by our guys doing something nefarious.

        1. avatar Jus Bill says:

          For the same reason, indefinitely detaining “unlawful combatants” (ignoring completely the absolute absurdity of that term) is un-American and unconstitutional.

          I don’t disagree, but setting up an IED in the sandbox is to me a LOT different than, say, shooting another drug dealer in a turf war. It’s a matter priorities, IMO. Clean up here first.

        2. avatar AmericanSpirit says:

          I’m with you there on that significant difference, Bill.

          Setting that IED means you’re a combatant and you’re lucky not to end up immediately ventilated – I just think a distinction between lawful and unlawful is patently absurd. Someone’s fighting, they’re a combatant; that is all.

          Either they were or they weren’t – prove it and jail ’em or let ’em go, because holding foreigners under US control without trial means the people fighting us have another (irritatingly legitimate) excuse to keep fighting.

          As for cleaning up here – can you point me to the really big broom and dustpan in the vicinity of the middle of the Eastern Seaboard? I’d like to borrow it and a little of Paul Bunyon’s time, if you don’t mind.

    3. avatar Hannibal says:

      Depends. Often such cases involve the defense team asking for postponements to investigate or obtain expert witnesses, etc. In such a case they have given up their right to a speedy trial. Don’t know if that’s the case here, although it does seem long.

    4. avatar Ralph says:

      What was his lawyer doing for 22 months?

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        Probably not reading TTAG.

  9. avatar Matt in FL says:

    “The judge’s actions, in my opinion, show that he is unfit for the bench. This sort of emotional fit, under the color of law, should never be seen in court.”

    I agree entirely with this statement. This guy is up for reelection in November in Seminole County, Florida. The phrasing on the ballot is always the same: “Shall Judge so-and-so be retained in office? Yes/no” Most people vote yes unless they have a specific reason to do otherwise (except, of course, for those who vote no because some men just want to watch the world burn).

    Emotional outbursts like this would seem to me to be a good reason to vote “no.”

    Sidenote: Galluzzo was the second judge assigned to the George Zimmerman case, and the second one to recuse himself. The next was Lester, who MOM successfully petitioned to have replaced, and then finally Nelson, who presided over it.

    1. avatar AmericanSpirit says:

      My impression of the (substantial) utility of an independent judiciary is that it is entirely founded on expectations that judges will be impartial to personal opinion; except when (hopefully) their better judgement argues for lighter sentencing (due to pesky things like rational thinking) rather than political activism.

      Perhaps it’s a question best discussed elsewhere, but isn’t it time to think about how to best maintain that flavor of justice system?

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        Well, just like politicians, there’s always the voting booth. As I said, he can be voted out of office. Perhaps this single event isn’t enough to warrant removal, and maybe he’s been an amazing judge since he was appointed in 2006. Maybe this is just an early sign of the decline of his fitness to hold that office. The difficulty is in figuring that out, and then getting it in front of enough of the populace to make it happen. I know I usually know next to nothing about judges when I go the ballot box. I generally alternate between not voting because I can’t make an educated choice, and voting yes because I figure if he’d done something worthy of voting no, I’d have heard about it.

    2. avatar Tom says:

      Actually three judges recused themselves, Judge Jessica Recksiedler because of a conflict of interest involving her husband and a CNN legal analyst

  10. avatar Randy Drescher says:

    Thats ok on the ammo, now he can buy new & be sure it will go bang next time.

  11. avatar Hannibal says:

    Does the judge think that old ammunition just kinda explodes by itself?

    The only thing ‘dangerous’ about old ammunition is if it won’t fire when needed. I ‘love’ when someone puts on a black robe and suddenly believes they know everything. And one wonders where he gets his caselaw for the ammunition…

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      His ammunition WAS “dangerous”; such is the nature of ammunition, when paired properly with a gun.

  12. avatar Dave s says:

    Sue the judge! If they get to say ammo is old and dangerous as an excuse to confiscate, we are all in trouble.

    Never heard of dangerous small arms ammo from being old. And I think the CMP stuff i have is 1960s, would love to have a hearing on old ammo on the record.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Agreed.

    2. avatar Larry says:

      I think mine is ’70s and ’80s, but to tell the truth the main thing I care about is the unmolested lead seal on the ammo can. Just shot up a bit last week, a tight group indicates the components are still stable, velocity consistent. I think properly stored ammo will be reliable out to 100 years, but can’t prove it (yet).

  13. avatar Adub says:

    I’m not sure where I fall on this. I think it’s the equivalent of a cop bumping a perp’s head as he pushes him into the car. We wouldn’t have complained if they’d done it to OJ, would we?

    1. avatar twency says:

      I have a problem with that for exactly the same reason. It opens to door to vigilante justice. That term gets misapplied to things like lawful self-defense. But it’s absolutely applicable to situations where a government official abuses his position to unlawfully injure (physically or otherwise) someone.

      1. avatar Wood says:

        Exactly. It’s an unlawful petty show of power, resulting from emotion. The same as putting someone you don’t like in a cell with “Bubba” and all the similar sort of nonsense.

  14. avatar LJM says:

    Time for the AI to have a little ammo drive for this man and stick it in the judges eye.

  15. avatar Ralph says:

    According to the news reports, the defendant is blind and the judge can see. Well, I don’t think so.

  16. avatar Closet Gun Nut says:

    AD HOMINEM ATTACK ON JUDGE DELETED

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I tried to snort coke once. Damn near drowned myself.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Damn! Beat me to it, you son of a…!

  17. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    So let the owner destroy the ammunition – by firing it.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      What if he had claimed it had tremendous sentimental value?

  18. avatar MotoJB says:

    Agreed…if all charges were dismissed, all guns and ammo should be returned. Total BS, arrogant, power-play by a likely egotistical and biased judge.

  19. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    What does he use? I’ll send him a box.

    1. avatar LC Judas says:

      He’s apparently got a .308 according to the article. If I were doing home defense with one of those that’s exactly what a box of Controlled Chaos would be for…

  20. avatar jwm says:

    I gotta know. How does a blind guy know what ammo goes to what gun?

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      How does a blind guy read, or make change? BTW, some foreign currency features Braille markings.

      When touch is elevated in importance, one learns subtlety.

      1. avatar Jus Bill says:

        And when one sense is removed, the remaining senses become more sensitive to compensate. I’ll bet his fingers are as good as a caliper.

    2. avatar Marcus Aurelius says:

      LEGALLY blind. I’m too lazy to investigate, but I’m betting he can hold an ammo box close enough to read the caliber, which you can’t do with the road ahead of you.

    3. avatar Wood says:

      This would seem a good situation for caliber standardization to eliminate the problem.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        Never mind the calibers; I’m pretty sure his fingers can tell the difference.

        How does a blind person distinguish between currency denominations? This has puzzled me for decades. And I’ve never gotten an answer.

        Some countries distinguish them (as a aid to the sighted) by making each denomination a different color. I really they’d do the same with our nearly worthless currency. In addition, make each denomination a slightly different size and shape, but not so much that it would present a problem in the ol’ wallet. Know what I mean?

  21. avatar htom says:

    I suspect the judge thinks old ammo is like the old Dynamite in the movies.

    Why he would think that was any kind of legal reason to destroy someone’s property without their consent I can’t imagine.

    1. It is possible that the judge listened to police, who told him, “Judge, this ammunition is 40 years old!” No one should be allowed to fire it! Turn it over to me… uh … the department, and I will make sure it is disposed of properly!

  22. avatar glen ebert says:

    The guy’s blind, alcoholic and prone to violence and you say he has the RIGHT to a gun. He should have his trigger finger amputated. As for the 22 months he spent in jail tough. The other guy is dead. Stand your ground is murder. That’s what you have when an armed man shoots and kills an unarmed man Murder! Only a coward supports this. Only a coward acts on it.
    What’s going on that your too stupid see or dishonest to admit to is that the gun industry doesn’t have The pool of hunters and competitive shooters to buy their product so they market to the criminal and murderous in our population. Not as many people are in the sporting class now. They’re working two jobs, taking classes to get ahead. They don’t get any part of the vacation and weekends off to pursue deer over hill and dale.
    Now the game has shifted to your children, office workers, church congregations, You because the gun industry can’t/won’t find a new business model. So murder is now acceptable in our brave new world.
    Don’t forget to thank the corporate dictatorship for this the next time you see them.

    1. avatar MudPuppy says:

      *Yawn*

    2. avatar jwm says:

      mumble, mumble, yada, yada, flatulence noises. That’s all I heard.

    3. avatar rlc2 says:

      Glen, to recap, it seems as if your main points are:

      coward defends himself is murder…
      gun industry markets to the crooks…
      hunters work two jobs cant hunt anymore…
      corporate dictatorship…taking over church kids, me…

      I’m confused- wheres the UFOs in all this?

    4. avatar The average American says:

      A guy with the ability to see attacks a blind man and you think it’s murder for the blind man to defend himself? Hope you don’t vote, aren’t a cop, judge, or elected official, and may God help anyone involved if you’re ever called to sit on a jury.

      >and you say he has the RIGHT to a gun

      I thought it was the constitution that said that?

    5. avatar AmericanSpirit says:

      Mostly, like, sentences (complete, coherent ones) and proper punctuation, man.

      Less emotion and unsubstantiated claims and more data are also good for the purposes of this discussion.

      Thanks for stopping by, though.

    6. avatar LC Judas says:

      You say the gun makers market to the murderous in our midst. Is that an attempt on alliteration?

      Because the murderous in our midst are murderous whether you “market” guns at all. And if you’re saying the market for guns isn’t there and that criminals take up the slack? News flash, buddy. Criminals don’t buy too much stuff. They STEAL IT. Especially expensive stuff that people with records have a harder time getting. With your logic the 100 million or greater firearms owners in this country ARE NOT enough market share and small time crooks who can’t and won’t buy expensive things suddenly take up the slack?

      That’s ridiculous on its face and in the details. If you had a single document to prove that CRIMINALS are the market and end users of most guns in this country as you insinuate then I would try to believe you but there’s no possible way. Try to villainize tens of millions of people again. It boggles the logical mind.

      Never mind that you purport that hunting and sport shooting is dead and instead of doing that we as gun owners are so poor and uneducated we need to stop being backwards and poverty stricken to work two jobs and take classes. Where do you even get off with that? There’s not a single shred of basis in your entire argument!

    7. So, in the last 20 years, the number of guns owned has gone up by 40 percent and the murder rate has dropped 50 percent.

      The facts are completely at odds with your theory. But that has never stopped those who want to disarm the population before.

      1. avatar slappy says:

        *Gunwatch.com*

        1995 called; they want their Web design back.

      2. avatar William Burke says:

        Glen, buddy. When you’ve been bitch-slapped by Dean Weingarten, you’ve REALLY been big-time bitch-slapped…

    8. avatar Tom says:

      Seriously, Mr Glen Ebert Troll. You really think that people are so incapable of thinking for themselves that they can be led about zombie like by corporations? And who do you think should lead all these people who you think are empty vessels? Voila I bet you think only government can do that. Not that corporatism is all that great, but we have a huge body count in history because of government.

    9. avatar Randy Drescher says:

      Your a breath of fresh air glen. I’m used to well thought out reasoned posts & then there is…yours. That all goes away glen when you relax & settle down a bit.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        Relax, Glen. That muscle will get loose enough for FLAME DELETED when you do!

    10. avatar Larry says:

      Hey, come on now, guys! Confess! Which one of you deleted the evidence I am sure the honorable Mr. Ebert posted with this otherwise incredibly stupid rant? I mean, “everybody knows” it’s IMPOSSIBLE to be that ignorant, he must have brought some proof for us to discuss!

    11. avatar William Burke says:

      Glen, where did you troll before coming here?

  23. avatar orangeblue says:

    His blindness and alcoholism would each prevent him from being issued a CCW permit in Florida. Alcoholism may also result in a NICS rejection (alcohol is a depressant, but might not be included in the context of that question). While neither alcoholism nor blindness would affect his right to possess a firearm, there are serious public safety concerns raised by both. If this guy was my neighbor, I wouldn’t want him armed. The judge made a token gesture toward public safety concerns that is ultimately meaningless (he can always buy more ammo).

  24. I would avoid Mr. Rogers when he is drinking.

    I do not believe that legal blindness would disqualify him from a Florida CCW permit, nor do I believe that blindness should disqualify someone from the exercise of their Constitutional rights.

    To say that “he can always buy more ammo” is the same as saying “he can always buy another house” or “he can always buy another gun” or “he can always earn more money”.

    At some point the amount may become frivolous, but the principle matters. I do not see any process of law in the destruction of his ammunition.

    Here is a link to the Florida information on eligibility for a CCW permit.

    http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Licensing/Concealed-Weapon-License/Eligibility-Requirements

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