A two-judge panel has overturned (PDF) two of the three gun-related convictions against Brian Aitken. I wrote about the outrageous prosecution of Aitken for Reason a couple years ago. Basically, under New Jersey law, it is a crime to possess a gun of any kind outside your home anywhere in the state (unless you’re one of the very, very few able to obtain a permit). However, once you’ve been caught and charged, you can argue one of the exemptions to the law, and one of those is moving between residences. Aitken was moving between residences (it’s a bit more complicated than that — read my article for the full details). Inexplicably, Aitken’s trial judge refused to let him argue one of the exceptions. Even the jury appeared perplexed. He was given seven years in prison.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie commuted Aitken’s sentence, but Aitken and his attorney didn’t ask for a pardon so they could fight to get the absurd laws overturned. The appeals court dismissed the gun conviction and the conviction for possessing the magazine, but oddly left the conviction for possessing ammunition.
“It doesn’t make sense if you have a gun and an exemption that allows you to take it to your new residence and the exemption doesn’t apply toward ammunition,” he said. “Are you supposed to leave your ammunition behind like you do light fixtures and refrigerators?”
Leaving the final conviction intact means Aitken will still have a felony record, which bars him from doing quite a few things, including ever owning a gun anywhere in the U.S. The prosecution also says it is appealing the ruling and considering retrying Aitken on the other two charges.