(Fred Weinberg) – For one shining moment, Reno, Nevada, Judge Patricia Lynch had the opportunity to join the big leagues—to be a judicial hero by doing the right thing.
In this case by following the law and telling a completely misguided DA that in Nevada, we allow people to defend their homes and families with firearms.
She blew it and consigned herself to the rookie leagues for the rest of her pathetic judicial career—which will hopefully end on January 7, 2017 when she is replaced by a real judge who will be elected in November of 2016.
Judge Lynch presided over the preliminary hearing in the case of State of Nevada vs. James David Norrell, a young man who had the nerve to defend his home standing in his apartment with a weapon and a set of handcuffs.
Instead of actually listening to the evidence and using the preliminary hearing as an opportunity to stop a bad case in its tracks she played along with Reno911 and totally ignored Norrell’s rights under the Second Amendment and Nevada law to defend himself, his child and pregnant wife from an uninvited painter who came onto his third floor balcony without the nicety of knocking on the door. No shots were fired and nobody was hurt and, in fact, it was Norrell, himself who called Reno911 for which he was arrested by a patrolman with two years experience and an obvious lack of understanding of the concept of self-defense.
Interestingly, while the arrest was actually made by Patrolman Jorge Aparicio also in attendance—first on the scene, in fact—was a vastly more experienced Lieutenant Nate Parker who was nowhere to be seen at the hearing. Only Aparicio testified and he testified under questioning from defense counsel Byron Bergeron that the Reno PD’s training would have him pulling his weapon against a knife brandishing assailant at 21 feet. He also testified that he had not searched the painter, nor had he taken a statement from Norrell prior to the time he decided to arrest Norrell.
So, in terms we can all understand, a patrolman of two years experience, answering a call after a vastly more experienced Lieutenant was already there didn’t search the gentleman who the complainant correctly pointed out was trespassing in his third story apartment and was allowed to charge the complainant in a case fraught with Second Amendment and self-defense issues without so much as taking a statement from the complainant.
There is obviously a reason they set the comedy Reno911 in Reno.
Only this isn’t a comedy. The complainant is charged with two felonies for which, were he to be found guilty, he could serve 12 years. For protecting in a perfectly legal manner his home, his child and his pregnant wife
And the judge presiding at his preliminary hearing practically nodded off in the courtroom the same way Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg nodded off at Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech. Oh, not physically but certainly mentally.
That this case was even charged is a slap in the face to Nevada gun owners. That it is going to trial demands the voters and taxpayers extract a measure of revenge. Judges can be unelected. So can prosecutors who allow their assistants to ignore the law of the land.
There are questions here which may never be answered.
First among them is how is it that the Lieutenant who answered the call first allowed a two-year veteran of the force to make such an arrest without even taking the statement of the complainant.
In fairness to Aparicio, he was open and clearly honest in his testimony and may well have begun to acquire doubts about his actions that day. But the fact remains that there was a much higher level of experience on the scene that day who chose not to make that arrest himself. Inquiring minds would like to know why.
Further, there is the purely coincidental juxtaposition of the hearing on the same day that Anytown USA spent a huge amount of money hammering Assemblywoman Michele Fiore on TV for having the nerve to introduce a bill allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry those weapons in previously “gun free” zones as a matter of self-defense. Could Judge Lynch have been influenced by those TV spots while having her morning coffee? Is she a closet gun grabber? That we probably won’t know but this we do. In 2012, she had the lowest retention survey numbers of the Washoe County Justice Court judges, just squeaking past 51%. I’m not always influenced by what lawyers think, but I saw this judge in action.
And finally, there is the clearly shaped testimony by the painting company and the people who nominally work for the apartment complex trying to protect their jobs and saying whatever the ADA wanted them to. They evicted Norrell after the incident and I suspect the civil suit will put his children through college.
This judge, this hearing is walking talking proof that Fiore’s bill needs to be passed.
These charges never should have been brought in the first place, but now that they are, when this is tried in front of a real judge in a real court, Norrell and his counsel, Bergeron, have the opportunity to set a huge precedent in Northern Nevada.
And the legislators, meeting just 25 miles away, should take note and never let this sort of judicial farce happen again.
Mr. Weinberg is publisher of the Penny Press.