We didn’t have room in the latest issue for some good stories from the July 2004 issue of GunNews.
Here’s another good one.
By John Birch
To cut to the chase, we won. Roderick gets his life back after nearly two years of what must have gut wrenching anxiety, while Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine lost a high profile case in his war on Illinois gun owners transporting their guns lawfully under Illinois law.
If you were not there, you missed a great opportunity to see Chicago-style justice in action. What you see on television is pure fiction. The Cook County Court at 26th and California is where dregs of the earth congregate each day. You have to be magnetically naked to pass security, then you get to see rapists and armed robbers sentenced to probation in assembly-line “justice.” It’s the kind of place that makes you dream of warm, soapy showers to clean the filth off.
The trial took about an hour. It would have taken a lot less if Judge James Linn has his way. It would be fair to say that sometimes the judge was exasperated by Roderick’s lawyer Walter Maksym. Frankly the trial looked for a time like it was heading down the proverbial toilet. Also, the judge was not happy that supporters of Roderick sat in mass outside the real courtroom behind the ballistic glass “lean to” that comprises the gallery. While the police do this to support their own, it was clear that gun owners doing the same were about as welcome as fecal matter in a punch bowl.
The State’s Attorney was a petite blonde with an aggressive streak and when the cops failed to show up, she made a huge deal of Roderick’s magazine being loaded and the firearm being immediately accessible.
The officers had previously testified the gun was loaded and not in a case. Roderick presented a case that clearly had the outline of the gun imprinted on it. Who to believe? Roderick who clearly had a self-interest in being acquitted, or the cops who clearly have an interest in “harvesting” guns “off the streets?”
Ultimately, Judge James Linn had to decide between the cops and Roderick. I can’t speak highly enough of this judge. He was not happy with us being there. At times he seemed ready to explode at Walter. He was not happy with the State’s Attorney either. When the state’s attorney requested to waive closing statement Judge Linn just said: “ARGUE!” And she did and demonstrated she was clueless on how to lawfully transport firearms in Illinois. Fortunately Judge Linn did know the law.
In discharging the charges, Judge Linn admonished Roderick to be careful about whom he took advice from on transporting gun in Illinois. When the judge made his ruling we spontaneously showed our agreement with applause. That caused the judge to initially hold us in contempt of court followed by orders to the sheriff to clear us from the building.
We certainly proved that fanny pack carry is the law of the land in Illinois. But at what price? The police and state’s attorney proved that to assert that right in Chicago, you have to be willing to spend days in the county jail, years in court and thousands in legal fees. What kind of right is that? Judge Linn as much said so in his admonishment to Roderick.
So now is the time to give credit where credit is due. First to Walter Maksym for never giving up on this case, particularly after discovering he was probably going to get paid about $20 an hour on it. Thanks Walter for believing in Roderick and serving as a foundation of strength during times I am sure Roderick thought it was a futile effort.
Second, credit goes to Roderick who could have taken the easy way out. He could have taken the conditional misdemeanor and been done with this several thousand dollars ago. I am not sure I would have had his guts to tell the state’s attorney to ram it like Roderick did.
Third, it is certainly important to thank the Chicago Tribune in general and Eric Zorn in particular who saw the merit in covering this trial as an embarrassing civics lesson for the Mayor and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.
Fourth, to all of you who continued to support the defense financially and emotionally even as the case dragged on ad nauseum. In particular to the Champaign County Rifle Association who were supremely generous. Thanks to those who actually attended the trial, especially those who came from south of I-80. I well know it was a super hassle to attend this trial but I also know that not a one of us regrets the time spent. It was an emotional experience.
…And finally to the Cook County State’s Attorney: you are evil personified. Your hatred for gun owners, especially minority gun owners, has made you blind.