People v Yang
Last week a couple of clients sent me links to a news story about a case in Northern California called People v Yang.
Here are the facts of the case:
Yang lives in Tulare. He is a law abiding citizen, and possess a CCW permit. He also was one of the thousands of individuals that took advantage of “Freedom Week” when St. Benitez overturned penal code § 32310 as unconstitutional. Benitez then stayed his own decision pending a 9th Circuit review, but had the stay go into effect the following Friday (hence “Freedom Week”) To ensure that individuals that availed themselves of “Freedom Week” did not have to deal with F#$kery from law enforcement, the DA’s office or the judiciary, he put these words into the conclusion of his order:
“IT IS HEREBY FURTHER ORDERED that the permanent injunction enjoining enforcement of California Penal Code § 32310 (a) and (b) shall remain in effect for those persons and business entities who have manufactured, imported, sold, or bought magazines able to hold more than 10 rounds between the entry of this Court’s injunction on March 29, 2019 and 5:00 p.m., Friday, April 5, 2019. Dated: April 4, 2019”
But I digress…
So Mr. Yang has possession of standard capacity magazines he bought legally during “Freedom Week”. He also happens to have a brother that lives with him, that…well….has some “legal issues”. Namely he is a parolee. As a parolee, he basically does not have 4th Amendment protections (or 2nd Amendment, for that matter). He is also subject to parole officer visitations.
On the day in question a parole officer was visiting Mr. Yang’s brother at the residence, when the Tulare County Sheriff showed up to assist. The bother mentioned that Mr. Yang had guns and this began a full search of the house.
They went beyond the common area of the home and went into Mr. Yang’s personal bedroom (arguably not legal), and there they found his legally obtained magazines.
They asked Mr. Yang where and when he got them. Mr. Yang told them he acquired them during “Freedom Week”. They then arrested him.
His able counsel then filed a demurrer…(basically a “so what” response to the State).
The Court punted, and a preliminary hearing was held….and Mr. Yang lost…he was held to answer and an arraignment date has been scheduled for June 25th.
The MAJ and I were arguably confused. How could this happen? What else was not being reported? We decided to investigate:
(If you have arrived here from our Newsletter, continue reading here:)
The MAJ and I decided to call Mr. Yang’s defense attorney directly. We spoke to Eric Schweitzer Mr. Yang’s defense counsel. Boy….that was fun! Mr. Schweitzer may or may not have a southern accent reminiscent of FogHorn Leghorn. An accent is definitely there, and somewhat hard to distinguish, but for purposes of discussion I will say it falls in the same category of a distinguished southern lawyer’s drawl….and boy is he a character!
CPT Lieberman: “So, Cosmo and I are trying to figure out from this news story what the State’s argument is?”
Counsel Schweitzer: “They have none. The State is essentially saying we can do this because we can.”
CPT Lieberman: “But…the State had to make some kind of meritorious argument? What did they say? And why did they file as a felony? That makes no sense at all? It is a misdemeanor?”
Counsel Schweitzer: “They filed as a felony son because my client is Asian! The mere fact that you would question them shows you are not a team player! I am going to demand a dismissal, return of property, return of his CCW, and a public apology from the DA and the Sheriff.”
CPT Lieberman: “What about the judge? How did the court just simply ignore Benitez’s order?”
Counsel Schweitzer: “I will send you the transcript.”
And he did.
The MAJ and I poured over the transcript and were left appalled. The Judge (Hon Juliette Boccone) appears confused, irritated, and ultimately dismissive of the defendant. She finds the reliance on a court order from a Federal Judge to be something that she cannot wrap her head around.
It also suggests that the DA, and the Court, may have broken the law. Not err….qualified immunity….”naner naner naner” you can’t sue us because we are the State broken the law….I mean, Holy Crap…some people might get disbarred and potential go to jail kind of broken the law.
I highly suspect that Mr. Schweitzer is correct and the DA dismisses the case. Whether or not Mr. Yang decides to pursue a civil rights case against Tulare remains to be seen.
What we do know is that a citizen, relying on a lawful court order, engaged in legal conduct and is now potentially in legal peril….and at the very least has incurred legal bills that he now has to pay.
But hey….we have the best judicial system in the world right?