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SCOTUS: Certain constitutional appeals still allowed after pleas

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SCOTUS: Certain constitutional appeals still allowed after pleas

On behalf of Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law | 
February 22, 2018
 | 

The U.S. Supreme Court has just ruled in favor of an appeal for a man who styles himself a “constitutional bounty hunter.” He pled guilty to a gun possession crime but then sought to appeal the constitutionality of the statute.

Ordinarily, a standard guilty plea agreement altogether waives your right to appeal. In this case, however, a direct constitutional appeal was not specifically among the claims the defendant waived his right to appeal. The Supreme Court says that he may move forward with that type of appeal.

The case involves a man who is a bit of a celebrity among gun rights activists and constitutional strict constructionists. Rodney Class, a veteran with a North Carolina concealed-carry permit, considers himself a “private attorney general.” His mission is to take judges to task when they fail to uphold the constitution, as he sees it. He travels the country — with weapons — undertaking to show them the error of their ways.

Class has never threatened a judge with a gun. He simply brings his weapons with him as he intervenes with the judges he sees as failing their duties.

In May 2013, Class traveled to Washington, D.C., in an effort to convince Congress to designate him officially as a “constitutional bounty hunter.” From there, he had planned to travel to Pennsylvania to confront a recalcitrant judge.

His adventures came to an end when he parked his Jeep in a Capitol Hill parking lot. A police officer peeked through the windows of the Jeep and noticed a large knife and an empty gun holster. A search of the vehicle revealed multiple knives and three guns.

He was charged with possession of a firearm on U.S. Capitol grounds, a federal crime. He acknowledged that he had indeed done so and pled guilty. The D.C. trial and appellate courts ruled that his guilty plea precluded his ability to appeal. The Supreme Court disagreed in a 6-3 vote.

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