|January 22, 2001, 08:19 PM||#1|
Join Date: April 29, 2000
Subject: Law Suit Update - Preliminary Injunction Hearing in Commonwealth Court
On January 18, 2001 at 1:30 PM in Commonwealth the Allegheny County Sportsmen's League and the Lehigh Valley Firearms Coalition appeared in Commonwealth Court to argue our motion for the Issuance of Preliminary Injunction. Our motion asks the court to issue an order that the state police shall destroy all records containing information such as the name, address, date of birth, gender, race and/or social security number of individuals who have purchased handguns in the Commonwealth. Judge James Kelley presided over the hearing, and as a whole, was very fair to both parties.
The hearing lasted over 4 hours and the court heard opening testimony from the state police that the database did exit. The court also heard testimony from our witness, former police chief Frank Taylor, of his experiences in using the database. Testimony was also given by Kim Stolfer and John Brinson. When I was call to the witness stand, and after I was sworn in, the state police attorney objected to me being a witness. After several exchanges of arguments between the attorneys the Judge reluctantly allowed me to give a shorten testimony.
It is important to note that in order to obtain this injunction we were required to prove to the court that the maintenance of these records cause us to suffer irreparable harm and as a result of that harm the court must take immediate action to destroy those records. The standards to prove irreparable harm are very high, and as a result presented a difficult challenge to us.
The filing of the injunction was an important legal move on behalf of the ACSL because we needed to show that the database did exist, and that our law suit has merit. Without establishing these facts it may be that our case could be thrown out of court without having been heard. Up until that day we never heard one word from Governor Ridge or Commissioner Evanko that they acknowledged the receipt of our law suit. We were not even sure that they would show up at the hearing.
We do not know how Judge Kelly will rule. However, at the conclusion of the hearing he made it very clear that no matter what ruling he hands down this case will go forward. That is a victory, and the facts placed in the records will allow us to prepare for the full trial when it is scheduled. We now have a long road to travel, and a tremendous amount of work to do.
As soon as we receive the transcripts of the hearing, and the ruling of the Judge, we will expand upon what was said at the hearing. It was a long day, and we want to be accurate in everything we repeat about the hearing.
Chairman, Legislative Committee
Allegheny County Sportsmen's League