Red Flag laws, or so-called “extreme risk protection orders” strip gun owners of their gun rights without any due process to confront their accusers. And just like traditional “orders of protection,” abuse runs rampant as people use them as bargaining chips in personal disputes and legal battles.
That’s exactly what appears to have happened in New Jersey where a doctor sued a former patient for leaving negative reviews of the doc’s medical practice. In the latest move in the ongoing battle, the doc’s attorney claims that he felt threatened by the doctor’s former patient.
From the Asbury Park Press:
A Shore-area lawyer and surgeon are asking a judge to keep guns out of the hands of a former patient in a test of New Jersey’s new “red flag” law.
James Maggs, a Wall-based attorney for Dr. Matthew Kaufman and The Plastic Surgery Center in Shrewsbury, told state Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon Thursday that he received an increasingly agitated phone call from Alfred Conti, telling him he knew where they lived.
“It started out the first few seconds a normal call then quickly he became agitated,” Maggs said. “His overall demeanor I felt became threatening and I became alarmed.”
So, what exactly did Mr. Conti say that so alarmed the doctor’s attorney? Did he threaten violence? Did Mr. Conti threaten to murder the lawyer and the doctor who Conti says botched his neck surgery? Did Conti threaten to get his six-shooter and ventilate the lawyer?
Not even close.
Maggs recorded the second call, which was played in court Thursday. In it, Conti used expletives and threatened to bring the police and media with him to force Kaufman (the doctor) to see him. He also said he knew where Maggs and Kaufman lived.
Maggs said he was worried; he had seen posts from Conti’s Facebook page that included references to guns.
Conti used expletives and threatened to bring the police and the media? And Conti claimed he knew where the attorney and the doctor lived. Yeah, so?
Maggs ran to the court that because Conti’s Facebook page had references to guns. Somehow because of that, Maggs claimed, Conti posed an imminent danger to attorney Maggs, Dr. Kaufman and their families. Really.
Conti’s lawyer asked Maggs about threats of violence.
Jason Seidman, Conti’s lawyer, asked Maggs if his client directly told him he was going to inflict violence.
Maggs said no. But after Conti mentioned he knew where he and Kaufman lived, “that, to me, was something that made me very alarmed,” Maggs said.
Obviously, it requires a willing suspension of disbelief to take Maggs’ filing as anything but a vexatious complaint.
Here in Illinois, we hold Guns Save Life meetings in seven regions across the state. We have all manner of political candidates and office-holders come through to press the flesh with gun owners and seek their support. Among those are judicial candidates.
One downstate family law judge described how one third to one half of the protective order petitions he sees are without merit. He went on to say that abuse of the protective order process is almost de rigueur in family law cases as one side or the other (or sometimes both) try to use them as weapons to gain the upper hand in custody and property aspects of divorces.
A Cook County judge at a Chicagoland GSL meeting indicated much the same. He described about a third of emergency petitions as utterly without merit, maybe a third completely appropriate.
It is that last third where he said he had to rely on his gut tempered with past experience to try to make the right call. But he admitted that he often will issue the emergency order out of an abundance of caution.
The jurist noted that things usually get straightened out at the formal hearing about ten days later. However, he noted, there is that period of time when the respondent is without his or her guns, access to the marital residence or even communication with minor children.
Only blithering fools or gun-hating ideologues will assert that these “red flag” orders will not be abused by morally and ethically challenged individuals and opportunistic attorneys – just like the traditional orders have been.
This case in New Jersey proves exactly that.