What happens when you forgo hiring a team of the nation’s best, top-notch lawyers and instead hire a one-man shop attorney? Sometimes you get an attorney who misses the filing deadline for your Supreme Court case to invalidate the FOID Act.
Yes, attorney David Sigale missed the Friday, May 31st deadline for filing his brief at the Illinois Supreme Court in the case of Vivian Brown. This case had all the makings of the one of the most important of his entire career. And he completely missed the filing deadline. He didn’t even remember to file a simple motion for an extension.
It is as if it slipped his mind altogether.
Note the entry on the bottom of the page: 5/31/2019 Appellee’s Brief Due – OVERDUE.
The entry for June 10th is for the Illinois Attorney General’s response.
Above: The top line shows where Sigale has asked the Supreme Court to give him an opportunity to file his brief – late.
Now Sigale is reduced to begging for the Illinois Supremes to give him a second opportunity to file his brief.
Brown won her criminal case at the circuit court level in a case where she was arrested for possessing a single-shot .22 rifle without a FOID card. A judge ruled the FOID Act as unconstitutional. We covered it earlier this spring.
We have the popcorn popping as news of a White County, IL judge ruling the FOID card unconstitutional. Ace of Spades had the story today, and Valinda Rowe posted it at Illinois Carry on Thursday. In short, a White County judge ruled in 2018 on the unconstitutionality of the FOID card in a case against a now-divorced, 4′ 11″ fifty-something woman with a single shot .22 rifle at home charged with possession of a firearm without a FOID card in March 2017.
Motions and counter-motions poured in, and in October 2018, the judge reaffirmed his ruling and expanded upon it. According to Valinda Rowe, the case is now headed to the Illinois Supreme Court thanks to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
This comes on the heels of the Illinois Supreme Court ruling that Illinois’ prohibition on TASERS/stun guns is unconstitutional.
The FOID Act requires gun owners in Illinois to pay a fee, and submit a photograph and jump through a bunch of hoops to buy, own, possess firearms or ammunition. Or even touch them.
Of course, the Illinois Attorney General could not let that court decision remain unchallenged and filed an appeal directly to the Illinois Supreme Court.
With the retirement of her public defender, Ms. Brown needed legal representation to defend her interests at the Illinois Supreme Court. However, the stakes were a great deal higher. That case would provide the best opportunity for the FOID Act to be struck down for all of Illinois’ 2.5 million FOID cardholders.
The National Rifle Association’s people reached out to Ms. Brown to provide a whole team of some of the best legal minds in the nation to represent her at no charge. According to Illinois Carry spokeswoman Valinda Rowe, Ms. Brown rejected the NRA’s offer.
Ms. Brown, according to Valinda Rowe, was not familiar with the National Rifle Association.
Instead of signing an agreement for the NRA’s legal beagles to take the case, Vivian Brown chose to go with the support of the Second Amendment Foundation and the one-man shop of attorney David Sigale.
Yes, Ms. Brown has the right to pick whomever she wants to handle her case. Why she chose a one-man shop over a team of the nation’s best attorneys we will never know for sure. But it seems a safe bet to figure Illinois Carry’s Valinda Rowe had a role in that selection process. Especially since the Rowes live in or near the very same small town as Ms. Brown.
We imagine the Second Amendment Foundation agreed to pay some or all of the legal fees involved. Furthermore, the SAF had past experience working with Sigale and expressed complete confidence in his ability to handle such an important case back in April when we communicated with Alan Gottlieb. Fair enough. We respect Mr. Gottlieb and his confidence in Sigale made us feel a little bit better.
Somewhere along the line, the Illinois State Rifle Association was also brought into the case as well. Logical, given David Sigale’s status as their general counsel.
Once retained though, David Sigale flat out refused co-counsel from the NRA’s legal team. He wanted this case all to himself. After all, a win would make him famous and set him up with big-dollar business for the rest of his career.
In the interests of fair disclosure, we here at Guns Save Life publicly criticized Sigale for his poor performance in the Wilson case in oral arguments in front of the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in early April.
We pulled down our post critical of Sigale after a request from people in high places. Interestingly enough, our website also came under attack and was completely disabled the same day we took down the post. We know how the attack was carried out and have sealed that security flaw, but we didn’t have the data to track the IP address of the attacker.
Sigale also had a dismal performance in orals in the Culp case as well – also in front of the Seventh. And listening to the Culp orals, the justices weren’t real impressed with his written brief either.
Meanwhile, Valinda Rowe and the ISRA’s leadership lauded David Sigale. They said he has a great track record, winning 16 of 16 gun-related constitutional cases. “If you have an issue, he’s your guy,” ISRA President Doug Mayhall said. “There’s no better attorney,” he touted.
I admire President Mayhall’s loyalty to Mr. Sigale.
At the same time, I doubt President Mayhall know that a great majority of Sigales wins were decided not on 2A grounds but upon other considerations including “Equal Protection” issues. And the big 2A case Sigale “won” was the McDonald decision where he served as the Illinois-based counsel sitting beside the great Alan Gura who did the heavy lifting.
I’d also add that Sigale’s not 16 for 16 any more. The Seventh Circuit ruled against him in the Culp case.
The bottom line was (and remains) that while David Sigale may be a decent attorney, why settle for a decent lawyer working a one-man shop when you can have an all-star team including a former US Solicitor General working on your behalf?
Sigale’s mistake potentially has all manner of negative consequences for all gun owners and prospective gun owners in the Land of Lincoln.
Sigale’s brief for Mrs. Brown has had a May 31st deadline for about five months. Sigale even had 30 days to study the State’s appeal. While everyone else interested in filing briefs got theirs in on time, Sigale could not. And for gun owners’ interests, Sigale’s brief was the most important by far.
The Supreme Court may allow Sigale to submit his brief late. And then again, they may not. In fairness, given the high stakes, they probably will.
But then again, if they do not, then the State will likely win more or less by default. And the State’s brief may well have some precedential value, making it even more difficult for future legal actions to strike down the FOID Act.
Loosely related to this case… At the time our post critical of Mr. Sigale was going viral and bogging down our website horribly back in early April, Mrs. Valinda Rowe (pictured above) reached out to Guns Save Life’s president seeking reconciliation. She wanted to, in her words, “bury the hatchet” between Illinois Carry and Guns Save Life. She wanted the two groups to resume working together.
In an hour-long phone call, she expressed an eagerness to move past the history of acrimony between the organizations. Our president told her our leadership would consider her proposal and respond.
Well, we didn’t have a board meeting in April because it fell on the first day of the NRA convention. And our president fell behind on completing paying work for farmers trying to get into the fields (or staying in the fields). I personally emailed Ms. Rowe. Here it is, warts and all:
(CC to GSL President Ryan Sweeney)
Ryan Sweeney told me he and you had a long phone conversation some time back about building better relations between GSL and Illinois Carry. In case Ryan hasn’t gotten back to you, I didn’t want you to think we were snubbing you and your desire for truly working together.
It sounded as though you wanted to end the persistent past acrimony and move forward with a clean slate, so to speak. Is that indeed the case? If so, the feeling is mutual.
In talking with Ryan way back (before the farmers started getting busy and breaking things for Ryan to fix), we talked about some ideas to make substantive actions to publicly show support for one another’s organizations. In short, to actively publicize and promote one another’s organizations & events. And encourage our respective memberships to participate and join the other’s organization. Basically talk up what each of us does well to one another’s members.
I’d be happy to discuss these with you via phone or email soon. In particular, I would like to hear your “asks” in terms of what we can do for you outside of that framework. And I can share a couple of other ideas we have with you as well. In this way we can share growth and influence.
We have a board meeting next Thursday and I’ll share with them what I hear from you, assuming you and Ryan haven’t laid out a framework already, in which case I’m sure he’ll have his report to give.
Thanks in advance.
All I’ve heard in return is crickets. Sadly, I was forced to report just that at the rescheduled board meeting on May 30th.
Guns Save Life has worked hard to build working relationships between and with all of the pro-gun rights organizations here in Illinois. We have since our early days. Heck, it was one of our board members Gene Martin who came up with the Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day idea back in the early 2000s. Working with the Illinois State Rifle Association, he worked with them to transform the ISRA Lobby Day to the all-inclusive Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day that has grown over the years to the thousands who turned out this year.
The ISRA does a lot of good things for Illinois gun owners, and IGOLD is one of the best things.
Frankly, the only organization GSL has not been able to work with has been Illinois Carry. The online forum maintains a defacto policy of banning any promotion of Guns Save Life events, activities or meetings. Even discussing GSL events or meetings is discouraged, primarily by Valinda Rowe. And yours truly is banned from there. But I’m in good company. Todd Vandermyde is also effectively banned as well, with his posts moderated before they are posted and his private messages read by Valinda and crew.
Frankly, GSL’s entire leadership to a person was hoping all of that could change. We welcome working together with Illinois Carry.
But then some people emailed me this from Valinda Rowe, posted last night at Illinois Carry.
Still checking into what happened. From the document The King uploaded, the deadline to file a response brief was missed but we don’t know why. It was due on a Friday and the following Monday the instanter was submitted requesting leave to still file the response.
There are a host of unknowns – was an attempt made to file the response on May 31st and a possible problem with the website prevented it? We all know of too many problems with Illinois.gov websites. Was the attorney sick? In the hospital? Out of the country? We don’t know. If the deadline was simply missed because of a heavy caseload or whatever, it would be very disappointing and no one would be more upset about it than the attorney.
Here’s what we do know and that is to not make broad sweeping statements without the facts. While there are individuals from other 2A organizations who take wildly perverse pleasure in denigrating and disparaging fellow Second Amendment friends – we do not do it here. Any comments of that nature will be removed from view – one or two already have been – and anyone who persists in violating the code of conduct in this way will find posting privileges suspended.
Let’s get the facts and see what happens.
Does that sound like a woman wanting true reconciliation? Or was her earlier request to “bury the hatchet” just part of an effort to get GSL to bury our hard-hitting post that made tens of thousands of gun owners ask themselves if David Sigale was the best attorney to argue against the FOID Act’s constitutionality?