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YOUNGSTOWN Lawyer seeks dismissal of weapons charge



Published: Thu, April 25, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The motion is rooted in a recent ruling from the 1st District Court of Appeals.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A weapons charge against a city man should be dismissed because the law has been ruled unconstitutional, the man's lawyer says.

Atty. Jeffrey Adler filed a motion to that effect Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. He represents James A. Williams Jr. of East Lucius Avenue.

According to court records, Youngstown police found a 9mm handgun on the seat of Williams' car during a traffic stop on Market Street in November 2001. He was indicted by a county grand jury in January on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

The case is assigned to Judge James C. Evans of common pleas court.

Cited recent ruling

In his motion, Adler cited a recent ruling out of the 1st District Court of Appeals that said the Ohio law against concealed weapons is unconstitutional.

The 1st District Court of Appeals is in Cincinnati.

Adler said the problem with the law, as noted in the appellate court decision, is that it forces a defendant to prove himself innocent, rather than forcing prosecutors to prove his guilt.

"The most core value of our criminal justice system is based on the foundation that an accused is innocent until proven guilty," Adler wrote in his motion.

The appellate court ruling, written by Judge Mark Painter, says that the concealed weapons law does not simply regulate, but effectively prohibits law-abiding citizens from bearing weapons.

"It acts to deprive law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms and, in so doing, thwarts a fundamental right that was granted by our forebears and the drafters of our Ohio Constitution," the opinion says.

The law does allow weapons to be carried in certain situations, but those "affirmative defenses" are so confusing that most ordinary people can't understand them, which also makes the law unconstitutional, Adler said.

Assistant Prosecutor Jay Macejko said he will file a response opposing Adler's motion to dismiss the charge.

bjackson@vindy.com




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