The Federal Trial of Bob
The Deck is Stacked Against Him.
by Angel Shamaya
January 18, 2001
KeepAndBearArms.com — Some people may be
surprised to know that today's federal court system has dispensed with a
centuries-old tradition of using a Holy Bible to "swear in" a witness
before he or she testifies against another. The left hand, for hundreds of
years, was placed on a Bible, the right hand raised, and an oath taken. And that
oath has changed a bit, too. "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole
truth and nothing but the truth" is still spoken, but the "so help you
God," once the closing phrase of a witness' oath, has been stricken
And from what a few of us watched in the fancy
new courthouse in Phoenix on Thursday, the above actually makes sense, in a sad
sort of way.
JURY OF YOUR PEERS?
Though I missed jury selection in Mesa, Arizona
gunkit maker Bob Stewart's trial proceedings, a couple of people who attended
the fiasco freely shared their thoughts of what transpired. According to one
man, Mr. Stewart sought to deny one potential juror's participation after she
proclaimed that she believed nobody should be allowed to own a gun. The judge
denied Mr. Stewart's request, reportedly saying that the woman could still stand
as an impartial juror. Another witness to the jury selection (tampering) process
said he believes that -- based on what he witnessed -- eleven of the thirteen jurors are mildly to severely
anti-gun in their leanings. A third gentleman said he wondered if the original
jury pool was hand selected from either the ACLU mailing list or based on their
being registered Democrats.
Also reported was an exchange Mr. Stewart had
with the judge during the jury selection process. Mr. Stewart asked a
question regarding whether or not a certain juror supported the Constitution and
the Bill of Rights. The judge reportedly stopped that line of questions
and said that those issues were not going to be addressed in this trial.
NO SATISFACTION, NO DICE
Bob Stewart has been defending himself pro per
for the last year or so. His court-appointed counsel, Mr. Haney, has been by his
side the whole time, but it's Mr. Stewart who is conducting cross-examination of
witnesses, making arguments in the form of questions, etc.
Through Thursday's cross examination process,
Mr. Stewart attempted to address many of the issues people on our side
consider to be fundamental to a fair trial were repeatedly rebuked by the judge.
For example, the following issues are banned from the jury's ears:
- whether or not the BATF has jurisdiction
over firearms manufactured within a state that have never traveled in
- the nature of where BATF's jurisdiction
begins and ends
- whether or not BATF could/should have taken
an administrative course of action (a friendly phone call or a knock on Mr.
Stewart's door) to address their concerns about the legality of Mr.
Stewart's gun kit they've determined to be a gun
- the definition of "readily
converted," which was the basis for BATF's justification for their raid
of his property and the prosecution against him (Nowhere in BATF's
code of regulations is the term "readily converted" defined.)
- whether or not BATF was negligent in not
having checked to see if Mr. Stewart's firearms rights had been restored
before proceeding against him as if he were prohibited from possessing a
- the accuracy and validity of the search
warrant (The judge ordered the jury to consider the flawed search warrant
accurate and valid.)
At one point during Mr. Stewart's cross
examination of a BATF agent, when the judge again told Mr. Stewart that one of
the above issues he sought to address was already resolved in the government's
favor, Mr. Stewart's eyes filled up with tears. After a moment of silence, he
respectfully said, "Your Honor, for the record, I feel I am being deprived
of my right to defend myself." The judge had to call a short recess so the
frustrated patriot could compose himself.
NOTABLE EXCHANGES DURING CROSS EXAMINATION
A couple of exchanges that took place during
Mr. Stewart's cross examination of those testifying against him were
noteworthy. The first took place between BATF's Marvin Richardson, Special
Agent in Charge of the investigation against Mr. Stewart. Mr. Stewart was
seeking clarification from Mr. Richardson as to why BATF didn't check to see if
Stewart's rights had been restored prior to raiding his home and business:
Mr. Stewart: Did BATF check to
see if Mr. Stewart's firearms rights had been restored?
Mr. Richardson: Since 1990, when
Congress stopped funding BATF's program to restore people's rights, that
hasn't been our job.
In other words, according to Marvin Richardson
-- who said he oversees some 75 such investigations at a time, sometimes -- in a
state such as Arizona, where rights can be restored by local authorities
pursuant to ARS 13-909, that fact is irrelevant to him and his machinegun-toting
anti-second-amendment pals. "Not our job" is akin to "just
following orders," which Hitler's Nazi SS troops used as their excuse to
abuse, harass, invade, intimidate, bully, shoot, maim and kill innocent people
they were "investigating."
CHIEF OF FIREARMS TECHNOLOGY BRANCH?
Then there was the testimony of Mr. Curtis H.
A. Bartlett. Bartlett is the Chief of the BATF's Firearms Technology Branch. He
flew in from D.C., again, to do his best to help put Bob Stewart in
prison. A cache of guns allegedly taken from Stewart's residence during
the raid was presented, one by one, to Mr. Bartlett. He was guided to explain
how guns work to the jury, the difference between a revolver and a pistol, the
difference between semi- and full-auto, and to describe the function of each gun
while holding it. Any anti-gunner in the jury was, surely, horrified. (One
female juror looked duly aghast -- it worked.)
When Mr. Stewart was given his chance to
cross-examine Mr. Bartlett, his questions turned to the nature of BATF's
authority in conducting investigations as they relate to interstate commerce.
(BATF has been known, repeatedly, to claim greater jurisdiction than they truly
have by stretching the definition of what constitutes interstate
commerce.) Though the judge stomped on Stewart's line of questioning and
called for at least three sidebar conversations to make sure Stewart did what he
was told and left the issue alone, one conversation managed to make it past the
Mr. Stewart: What exactly
constitutes interstate commerce as it relates to BATF's jurisdiction over
cases like this one?
Mr. Bartlett: When a gun travels
in interstate commerce, the BATF has jurisdiction.
Mr. Stewart: What is the
definition of a "state," and how does that definition guide BATF's
Mr. Bartlett: I'm not sure of
the definition of a state as defined by law. I do recall that D.C. is listed
as a "state".
The gist of the conversation was that the BATF
employee and Chief who flew in from our nation's capitol to testify against Bob
Stewart couldn't quite address where BATF's authority stops and starts -- but he
did put it clearly on record that D.C. is a state. People who understand
the nature of law as it relates to interstate commerce will find that most
intriguing. At issue was whether or not a person can make a gun within his or
her own state without incurring the wrath of the BATF. [Interstate commerce is
defined in Title 18, U.S.C., Section 921 (a)(2). You will also find the
definition of "state" in that section of U.S. Code. D.C., Puerto Rico,
and possessions of the United States such as post offices, federal enclaves,
etc. Also specifically excluded are any areas not defined as "state,"
and Arizona is not mentioned, nor are any of the other 49 states. 95% of all gun
transactions do not take place in "interstate commerce" as defined by
law -- BATF does not have jurisdiction over Mr. Stewart, legally, in this
prosecution.] Though Mr. Bartlett didn't come out directly and say YES, he
implied the truth: you can make a gun in your own state and leave it within the
state and they have no authority over your so doing.
SUBPOENAED WITNESS DENIED
The U.S. Government's original prosecutor in
the case against Mr. Stewart -- Mr. Welty -- was pulled from the case some
months back. After Mr. Stewart got his rights retroactively restored to a date
prior to the launching of BATF's investigation against Mr. Stewart, it appeared
that BATF's prosecution was about to go belly up. Mr. Stewart subpoenaed Mr.
Welty to inquire as to his involvement in getting a judge to rescind the rights
restoration just days after she signed the order. Mr. Welty appeared in
court on Thursday to meet his requirement based on that subpoena, but Judge
Silver ruled that Mr. Stewart would not be allowed to examine Mr. Welty as a
witness -- then excused him from the courtroom. The term "Kangaroo
Court" comes to mind...
Can there really be a jury of 13 and no
patriots who understand the right of the people to keep and bear arms? We will
know soon enough -- Mr. Stewart will call his witnesses, prosecution will
cross-examine, they'll have their closing statements, and the jury will
disappear behind closed doors to find out whether or not the BATF will be
successful in its bid to put a husband and father of three young boys in prison
for a many years. These final proceedings are scheduled to take place Tuesday
morning (January 22, 2001) in Judge Roslyn O. Silver's courtroom (Room 604) at
the fancy new federal courthouse at Washington St. & 4th Avenue in Phoenix.
The jury's verdict is expected back no later than Wednesday.
I will be there, and I will report the outcome
of this federal assault on the Second Amendment.
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