Anti-gun judge illegally confiscates CHL-holder's firearm; defendant to appeal
The name of the individual described below has been publicized in brief
blurbs about the incident in a Cleveland Sun newspaper, but we have chosen
not to repeat it here.
For several weeks, Ohioans For Concealed Carry has been following the case
of a young CHL-holder whose has been abused not only by the terrible vehicle
carry provisions in Ohio law, but by the system responsible for enforcing
On Thursday, August 5, the CHL-holder was a passenger in a vehicle that was
stopped for a traffic violation by a Chagrin Falls police officer.
The CHL-holder identified himself as a such to the officer, and announced
that he was carrying.
Upon so doing, the officer moved to the passenger side of the car and
ordered the CHL-holder to place his hands on the dash. When he did so, the
CHL-holder's shirt came loose and lifted up over his gun, which was
contained in an inside-the-waist-band holster.
The officer the accused the individual of not having his firearm in plain
sight, and confiscated the firearm and license. He was not, however,
charged or arrested at the time. This fact alone is cause for concern,
since Ohio law specifically states that unless a person is charged or
arrested, their firearm should be returned at the conclusion of the traffic
- ORC 2923.12.(H) If a law enforcement officer stops a person to question
the person regarding a possible violation of this section, for a traffic
stop, or for any other law enforcement purpose, if the person surrenders a
firearm to the officer, either voluntarily or pursuant to a request or
demand of the officer, and if the officer does not charge the person with a
violation of this section or arrest the person for any offense, the person
is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm, and the
firearm is not contraband, the officer shall return the firearm to the
person at the termination of the stop.
The defendant later voluntarily appeared at the police department, where he was booked on a fifth-degree felony "plain sight" violation, and released on bond.
The city prosecutor and defense counsel came to an agreement where the
prosecutor dismissed the felony charge for violating the open sight
provision. The prosecutor filed a new case of disorderly conduct (a minor
misdemeanor) as part of the deal for the dismissal, and the defendant
entered an Alford Guilty plea to the charge. A minor misdemeanor is like a
traffic ticket - the penality is a fine only, with no possible jail-time.
Pleading "Alford Guilty" means, essentially, that the defendant isn't
admitting guilt, but the deal is so good that it would be akin to commiting
legal suicide to pass it up.
On Monday, August 23, the case went before Bedford Municipal Court Judge
Peter Junkin. Rather than signing off on this deal, as he had done all
morning long in other cases, Judge Junkin immediately began grilling
defendant and his counsel about why would he want to carry a gun in the
municipality, since there is no violent crime. The judge peppered the
defendant with rhetorical questions such as "If you see something you are
going to jump out and start shooting?" The
judge's line of questioning sought to make the defendant out to be a
The judge then reviewed every police report, statement, etc.,
and was "visibly getting mad". He wrote one thing on the entry, then
scribbled it out. Eventually, Junkin fined the defendant $150, ordered he
pay court costs on the disorderly case and the dismissed felony case,
and ordered seizure of the gun.
The prosecution never requested seizure of the gun, which was illegally
seized in the first place (ORC 2923.12.(H)). The Judge has no authority to
order seizure of the gun until the prosecution makes a motion (ORC 2933.43
(C)). The prosecution made no such motion, because the prosecutor knew that
the gun should not have been seized by the officer at the traffic stop.
There is already a Cuyahoga County Appeals Court case directly on point -
State v. Cola 76 Ohio App.3d 840.
According to witnesses, defense counsel started to object, saying "Judge, I
don't think you can do that," but Junkin immediately cut him off and said
"Get the Court of Appeals to tell me I can't do that."
The defendant has decided that he will take Junkin's advice, and pursue the Cuyahoga Court of Appeals for relief from this illegal, activist ruling. It is believed the prosecutor will not contest the appeal.
A candidate needs to be identified to run against this judge, who lets his
personal bias lead him into blatantly illegal acts from the bench.
Judge Peter Junkin
Bedford Municipal Court
165 Center St.
Bedford, OH 44146