Florida Appeals Court Warns Judges Their Power to Seize Guns is Limited

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Trial judges need specific information about physical threats before ordering firearms seized, according to the Florida Second District Court of Appeal

By Lee Williams

It took a team of 15 lawmen and court bailiffs an entire day to remove all the firearms and ammunition from Alecs Dean’s southwest Florida home last year. They filled an entire box truck.

Dean, a firearms expert and consultant, had amassed an incredible collection. Most of the firearms seized weren’t even firearms, legally. “They were antiques,” said Dean’s Attorney, Eric Friday, who is also general counsel for Florida Carry, Inc.

Dean’s ammunition collection was as extensive – consisting of thousands of rare and exotic rounds, including many pinfire cartridges, which Dean had painstakingly sorted with a magnifying glass over the years.

“They all got dumped in a box,” Friday said. “They took ammunition components that weren’t even covered by the order. They sure didn’t have the authority to seize them.”

To be clear, the court ordered Dean to surrender his weapons. It did not authorize the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to seize anything. “They seized them on their own,” Friday said. “They just went in and grabbed them without a court order or a search warrant.”

Dean told the deputies he had a third party on the way to take possession of his collection, and he even offered to hand over the keys to his home and stay elsewhere until things could be worked out. The lawmen didn’t relent.

“We did everything we could to try to prevent this catastrophe,” Friday said.

Dean had been the subject of a temporary court order for protection against stalking, which was brought by Jaclyn Bevis, a local TV reporter in Ft. Myers, Florida. The temporary court order prohibited Dean from possessing any firearms or ammunition, which he was ordered to surrender to law enforcement.

After the seizure, Dean immediately filed a motion seeking the immediate release of his property, arguing that the court did not have the authority to order him to surrender his firearms and ammunition based solely on a temporary injunction for stalking. The trial court denied his motion, which Dean appealed to the Florida Second District Court of Appeals.

In an opinion released Friday, the appellate court agreed with Dean.

“We conclude, based on the allegations in the petition, that the trial court erred in relying on section 784.0485(5)(a), Florida Statutes (2019), and thus we reverse the temporary injunction to the extent that it prohibited Dean from possessing firearms or ammunition and ordered their surrender,” the three-judge panel said in their opinion.

Backstory

In her March 30, 2020 sworn petition for the temporary protection order against stalking, Bevis alleged that Dean would provide her with news tips when she worked as a local TV reporter. Over time, she claimed, he “became obsesses (sic) with her,” and that when he learned she was seeing someone else, he “lost connection with reality.”

“While his threats of me have not typically been physical in nature, he did once tell me he was ‘looking to kill off another character in his autobiography,’” she wrote in her petition. Dean’s attorney, Friday, pointed out that this statement was from an online meme, which has been shared with tens of thousands of people.

Bevis wrote she feared for her safety “on the basis of his statements, his mental state, and his access to firearms.” The court found for Bevis, and ordered Dean to surrender his weapons.

In his appeal, Dean argued that “his right to keep and bear arms as provided for in the Florida Constitution was violated when the trial court entered the temporary injunction, which ordered that he ‘shall not use or possess a firearm or ammunition’ and that he ‘shall surrender all firearms and ammunition’ that he possessed.”

In their opinion, the appellate court noted that Bevis “did not allege any express threat of physical violence against her, and she did not allege any expressed or implied threat of the use of a firearm or any other weapon against her.”

The three-judge panel affirmed Bevis’ temporary injunction, but they concluded that the order to surrender his firearms “infringed upon Dean’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms as provided for in the Florida Constitution.”

“Therefore, we reverse the temporary injunction to the extent that it prohibited Dean from possessing firearms and ammunition and ordered their surrender,” the opinion states. “We otherwise affirm the temporary injunction.”

What this means

Friday pointed out that Dean’s ability to obtain fair and impartial hearings was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. At one hearing, Friday was told he could not appear telephonically, and Dean was subsequently told he would have to appear pro se.

Dean’s firearms and ammunition are now in the hands of a third party, but since the trial court issued a final injunction, Dean cannot have access to his collection for an entire year, or until he can quash the final order at an upcoming hearing, which was delayed due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the appellate court’s opinion has statewide impact, which Dean’s attorney believes is a strong message to lower courts.

Said Friday, “The Florida 2DCA said trial judges need to be more careful. They do not have blanket authority to take guns from people solely because they issue a temporary injunction. Their power is limited. Their power to deprive someone of their constitutional rights is limited. Judges need more information about specific threats – and there were none in this case – before ordering firearms removed from someone’s home.”

 

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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with permission.

 

26 COMMENTS

  1. Now, the liberals will just rewrite the law so a court order can be issued to confiscate all weapons. I wonder about all the damage to the antiques. Will the owner sue to be made whole? This kind of stuff should waive immunity and require the persons responsible to pay out of their pockets.

  2. COVID is never a barrier to the gov treating people like shit, but is insurmountable when it’s time to do the right thing.

  3. Looking for love in all the wrong places…Should have moved on waaaaay before giving the fragile roll playing damsel in distress douchebag reporter a rope to hang you with. C’Mon Man.

    • Don’t disagree with that. It’s now SOP for divorce lawyers in my area to automatically seek a restraining order on behalf of their female clients. Alleged misdeeds are made out of thin air and judges will always CYA themselves because something might happen. Male clients seem reluctant to do same thing.
      My advice, no matter how fun it seems, is don’t associate, marry, or sleep with crazy people.

  4. just imagine how deafening the uproar would be if a judge in a similar fashion suspended a womans
    “14th amendment right to choose”

  5. This does point out assiciating with the “news media” types who are typically leftist ane unstable is always a bad idea. Research indicates there is better than a 50/50 chance that young (and maybe not so young) femail leftists are insane.

  6. Just wait until he’s done inventorying everything and discovers how much is missing because the COP stole them. Cops are crooks and I’d bet every cent I’m worth there’s going to be some rare and valuable items that are missing that for some strange reason were never there or inventoried by cops.

  7. This exactly what is wrong with the Bloated Judicial System. There are far to many Courts and Judges with varied Opinions as to what constitutes the definition/scope of a law,statute or regulation. Of course this is due to politicians many of whom are lawyers who craft these gray area legislation that allow for numerous interpretations. Which in turns fuels the need for more decisions. Requiring more Courts and Lawyers and Decisions. The whole of which is designed to turned it all into a big carousel of continued self replicating Bureaucracy. For the sole purpose of keeping “We the People” confused and exasperated with the end game being a total lack of wanting to be involved. Which results in people simply no longer wanting to participate in it’s use or trying to fix it’s numerous problems. Which works out great for those who have designed it all for their benefit due to their ability to manipulate it to their best interest. The System is no longer the Problem…The Problem is with “The People” who continue to allow it to survive and flourish because or their Complacent Cowardice.

  8. Sounds like a semi-win to me… But if this “reporter” talks like she writes, how the hell does she keep a j_— “never mind”… the Kamala method at work?

  9. As tax payer in Lee County I hope he goes home and licks his wounds. As citizen and strong supporter of the 2ndA I hope he is well paid for the violation of his rights and any damage to his vast collection.

  10. How is the “final” injunction any different from the one struck down by the appeals court?

    we know, of course, judges are/were active attorneys at some point, and lawyers love word games.

    forcing Dean to defend himself in court without benefit of an attorney should be ample grounds for impeachment/removal of a judge, and maybe a personal lawsuit for acting outside judicial authority.

  11. A FRIEND OF MINE WAS IN A SIMILAR SITUATION A FEW YEARS BACK. ALL OF HIS FIREARMS WERE SEIZED BY THE ATF, HE WAS ACQUITTED OF THE TRUMPTED UP BULLSHIT CHARGES AND WHEN HE WENT TO COLLECT HIS FIREARMS FROM ATF HE WAS APPALLED AS TO THE DEPLORABLE CONDITION THEY WERE IN….. SADLY HE WAS THE ‘UNDERSHERIFF’ OF A LARGE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT THAT THE ATF TRIED TO SET UP ON A BULLSHIT TRUMPED UP & FABRICATED CHARGE. THIS MAN WAS A VIET-NAM VET AN AS CLEAN & STRAIGHT UP AS A MAN CAN BE. IT WAS AT THIS TIME I LOST ALL OF MY RESPECT, CONFIDENCE AND CREDIBILITY IN ALL BRANCHES OF THE LIBERAL CONTROLLED ‘ALPHABET POLICE’…. ! ! !

  12. It continues to both baffle and incense me when I consider the extent to which people are legally enabled to screw around with other people. Anyone bleating about living in a free country are an affidavit away from finding out the truth of the matter. This is the sort of thing that leads to Killdozer.

  13. This is why everyone should plan to own both a home and also a private sanctum that is off the books. People can’t steal what they can’t find.

    It sounds more like he turned her down and she wasn’t happy about it so she made up a bunch of BS to screw with him. Throw the book at her and make her liable for every penny in attorney fees along with non-defaultable compensation.

    • private sanctum??? The Gov knows ur name & property u own….through taxes!

      Do u own anything u have to pay yearly tax rent on>?

  14. This is why we need to take back our rights! All of those guilty should get rope justice…to set a example… of… this is what u get get when u violate natural human rights!

    “All laws/wishes/orders etc. which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.” (Marbury vs.Madison, 1803.)

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  15. So if you are a female the courts will always grab your suitors guns in Florida. And if you were once a guy and now you are a girl the courts will not only take your suitors guns but charge him with a multitude of civil rights hate crimes. Its not hard to understand why some go into rage because of our system of justice, or injustice.

    Sounds like this wench made false charges. He should be able to sue her for civil damages.

    Its time we start pushing for new laws that require the KGB to treat confiscated property with care and respect and require compensation for all damages. This means guns, cars, homes, and any physical and clinical damage to ones body.

  16. For God’s sake Jaclyn Bevis is not even good looking……what a BS Scam!

    Why do ugly people think someone is stalking their dumb ass?

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