Author Joel Rosenberg has been arrested on felony charges pertaining to carrying of a firearm at Minneapolis City Hall. I have been reading quite a lot of bits and pieces from the blogosphere, so I wanted to clarify what is happening, and why.
(Please note that this post contains my suppositions and therories, as well as documented facts. )
Joel is author, and firearms instructor from Minneapolis, MN. Joel’s books include the “Guardian of the Flame” science fiction series, atnd “Everything You Need to Know About (Legally) Carrying a Handgun in Minnesota”.
Joel operates a MN-BCA approved training organization to train students intending to apply for a Minnesota permit to carry.
Joel was arrested on a warrant issued by Judge Janet Poston, after receiving a complaint from Lt. Michael Fossum of the Minneapolis police department.
Here is a brief summary of events that led up to Joel’s arrest:
OK, Felicia’s arrest is a whole other can of worms… For this post, I’ll focus on Joel’s arrest and incarceration.
Let me start by saying, Joel has made his fair share of enemies in the past… Joel has a unique way of approaching things, and often rubs people the wrong way. Joel describes himself as an asshole at times. But civil rights are for assholes too. The law does not change for people based on their personality. That’s what I’m focusing on.
I’ll cover the legality of whether or not you can carry at city hall in a moment… First, we’ll process the events leading up to Joel’s incarceration.
If you have not seen the video (posted above) you really should.
The first thing I hear from people is “He was recording, so he must have been trying to make an incident”
Bull. It’s good to keep the police honest, especially the MPD. Audio and video recording is smart, especially when your civil rights are being challenged.
Palmer asked the question ”do you want me to violate your permit?”
If the question was supposed to be “do you want me to violate your civil rights?” it was too late at that point, so I can only assume that he meant “do you want me to revoke your permit”
By Minnesota state law, a permit to carry is issued by the County Sheriff. Only the Sheriff can grant and/or deny a permit, and only a Judge can revoke one.
Palmer then threatens to arrest Rosenberg… but does not cite any crime being committed.
After asking nicely, Joel agreed to put the gun in the car. Joel returned, and Palmer was seeming unshaped by the incident. (Especially since he did NOT arrest Joel, returned his gun to him, and allowed him to leave on his own) But apparently, his ego was more bruised that he showed.
After the encounter, Joel proceeded to file assault charges on Sgt. Palmer at the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office. Joel also posted an open letter to Bill Palmer, and a few YouTube videos on the matter.
None of this was illegal.
But it did seem to spark the MPD’s interest…. read on.
If you read the arrest warrant you will see that they make note of Joel’s internet activity, as if it had anything to do with his arrest. If they are arresting him for charges stemming from Nov. 5th, then why make note of his internet videos and postings?
Because they hurt their feelings.
Here the MPD tips their deck a little bit. It seems they didn’t care about the matter until Joel started poking them is the eye. Is that good or bad… I don’t know… But it’s not illegal, and not a cause for pressing charges.
If Joel committed a felony on the 5th, he should have been arrested on the spot, no questions asked. Not 33 days later.
So it comes down to either no law was broken, or Palmer is inept.
Actually both can be true.
There are a few shocking things about Joel’s arrest and holding.
A summons rather than a warrant must issue unless a substantial likelihood exists that the defendant will fail to respond to a summons, the defendant’s location is not reasonably discoverable, or the defendant’s arrest is necessary to prevent imminent harm to anyone.
There is no reason why a man with no criminal history, local family, local friends, a local home, and multiple local businesses poses any flight or public safety risk.
Here are a few of the things I have read around the internet from keyboard commandos turned prosecutors about Joel’s actions.
In Minnesota, we have a Permit to Carry… With no requirement to conceal:
You can read more about that here.
In Minnesota, only one of the parties being recorded has to be aware of the recording. In this case, the party is Joel.
For those who think that it “proves” Joel was out to make a scene, read above about the unwarranted arrest and holding of his wife by the MPD, and ask yourself if you would trust them? I don’t. On top of that Palmer had already tried to extort money for the documents. I would have wanted that on tape if he tried it again.
While in general, it is better to comply with police than argue with them, you do not have to obey unlawful commands.
OK, enough from the commandos… Here is what Joel was ACTUALLY charged with.
MN Statutes 609.66
Subd. 1g. Felony; possession in courthouse or certain state buildings. (a) A person who commits either of the following acts is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both:
(1) possesses a dangerous weapon, ammunition, or explosives within any courthouse complex; or
(2) possesses a dangerous weapon, ammunition, or explosives in any state building within the Capitol Area described in chapter 15B, other than the National Guard Armory
Subd. 3. Constructive. Constructive contempts are those not committed in the immediate presence of the court, and of which it has no personal knowledge, and may arise from any of the following acts or omissions:
(3) disobedience of any lawful judgment, order, or process of the court;
Subd. 2. Misdemeanor contempt. Every person who commits a contempt of court, of any one of the following kinds, is guilty of a misdemeanor:
(2) behavior of like character in the presence of a referee, while actually engaged in a trial or hearing, pursuant to an order of court, or in the presence of a jury while actually sitting for the trial of a cause, or upon an inquest or other proceeding authorized by law;
Joel certainly did not commit a felony and it is very debatable to whether he violated the court order. Let me explain:
Regarding the first charge, the MPD is alleging that Joel committed a felony by carrying a firearm into a court complex. We’ll start off by assuming in some wild world that City Hall and/or the Chief of Police’s office is part of the “Court Complex” MN Statutes make an important distinction for permit holders…
MN Statutes 609.66
(2) persons who carry pistols according to the terms of a permit issued under section 624.714 and who so notify the sheriff or the commissioner of public safety, as appropriate;
Take note that you only have to notify the Sheriff… not get permission. I know for a fact, and Felicia has verified, that Joel has submitted to the Sheriff his intent to carry while in Court Complexes in Hennepin County. Now the complaint states that no-one has the notification on file.
The best guess that I have is they are trying to say that they have no notification on file for THAT DAY. (Which of course you don’t need to do) Either that or they are lying…. Which wouldn’t surprise me.
So assuming Joel has proof that he mailed it (and I bet he does) than the felony charge goes out the window.
Remember… this is in the crazy world of a Police Chiefs Office being part of a Court. (they are entirely separate branches of the government.)
This is what the heart of the matter is in my opinion…
In September of 2008, Hennepin County Judge Judy Swenson issued a court order banning guns from all MN court complexes, and included Minneapolis City Hall.
Does the court have the authority to ban guns?
The problem with this is, the MN PPA of 2005 specifically denies all governmental entitites the ability to restrict the lawful carry of a firearm…
Subd. 23. Exclusivity. This section sets forth the complete and exclusive criteria and procedures for the issuance of permits to carry and establishes their nature and scope. No sheriff, police chief, governmental unit, government official, government employee, or other person or body acting under color of law or governmental authority may change, modify, or supplement these criteria or procedures, or limit the exercise of a permit to carry.
MN Statutes 624.714
So unless the judge considers herself to be a deity, rather than a “person or body acting under color of law or governmental authority” the ban itself is entirely illegal outside of the scope of courts. And has never been challenged… until now.
Luckily Joel had David Gross in his corner as his attorney.
David Gross is a former Minneapolis city attorney, has Hamline law professor Joe Olson on his speed-dial, and literally helped write and pass the permit to carry law, at tremendous professional and personal losses (not just financial). There is not anyone better to take this on.
Whether or not you like Joel Rosenberg, or approve of what he did, the fact remains he is being held unreasonably, and has not broken any laws. This is an injustice.
You can keep up to date on events as they unfold at:
A few bloggers chiming in…
25% of Windypundit Blog Team Now In Jail
WindyPundit: On Joel Rosenberg’s Sanity, Safe Gun Handling, and Why You Should Always Check Who’s Sitting Behind You in the Rarig Center Theater
WindyPundit: Smell the Retaliation
Shot in the Dark: If You Happen To Be Downtown Minneapolis At 1:30…
Shot in the Dark: Update
Shot in the Dark: He Said, Sarge Said, Part III (by Joel Rosenberg)
Shot in the Dark: He Said, Sarge Said, Part II (by Joel Rosenberg)
Shot in the Dark: He Said, Sarge Said, Part I (by Joel Rosenberg)