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CCRKBA DENOUNCES UTAH PANEL FOR URGING JUDGES TO IGNORE STATE LAW

Tuesday, May 21st, 2002

BELLEVUE, WA – Calling it an outrageous recommendation, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) today blasted the Utah Board of District Judges for urging its members to ignore a state law that requires gun storage lockers to be installed in courthouses.

“How dare a judicial panel, headed by 6th District Presiding Judge K.L. McIff, recommend to its members that they ignore a law, simply because panel members have an elitist attitude about firearms civil rights,” said CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron. “Judges do not have the luxury of ignoring statutes they don’t agree with and Judge McIff should know that. Their job is to administer justice according to the law, not decide which laws they will and will not abide.

“These same judges probably have a fit when someone brings up the subject of jury nullification in their courtrooms,” Waldron added. “Yet it seems perfectly alright for the judges to practice a little ‘nullification’ of their own.”

Several days ago, Judge McIff told court administrators in six Utah counties to ignore the law. Then, with Judge McIff chairing the meeting, the ten-member panel voted unanimously to retain its policy of prohibiting guns in courthouses, despite a warning from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff that they must obey the law. Utah statute mandates the installation of lock boxes in courthouses so that legally-licensed visitors can safely store their firearms, rather than leave them in automobiles where they might be stolen.

There are 70 district judges in Utah and about 44,000 citizens who are licensed to carry concealed handguns.

“What we have here,” Waldron observed, “is a case of 70 judges trying to enforce their elitist attitude on tens of thousands of Utah residents. This is an outrageous recommendation, and it certainly sends the wrong message about the Utah bench.

“What if,” Waldron continued, “a citizen came before a district judge, charged for violating a statute with which the citizen did not agree? People simply cannot ignore laws they don’t like. Can you imagine a district judge’s response if he were told, for example, by a traffic violator, ‘Your honor, I’ve been driving a hundred miles an hour for years and haven’t hurt anyone. Why should I obey a 55 mph speed limit’? That judge would throw the book at the speeder, and rightfully so.”

Waldron urged the Utah Judicial Council to reject, rather than ratify, the District Court Board’s position when it meets next week.