Last week’s consolidation hearing on two major lawsuits, Koons v. Reynolds and Seigel v. Platkin, challenging New Jersey’s “carry-killer” law may provide some clues as to next steps in the high-profile Second Amendment fight. A court transcript of the hearing illuminates some very important statements from the bench as it relates to the Second Amendment, and also highlights the trajectory of the fast-moving case.
Siegel v. Platkin TRO hearing transcript.
Here are some key takeaways.
During oral arguments, the State objected to consolidating Seigel into Koons (the case wherein a Temporary Restraining Order had already been issued by Judge Bumb). Daniel Schmutter, lead attorney on behalf of plaintiffs in Siegel, pointed out that if the state was simply interested in consolidating both cases for the purposes of efficiency, they shouldn’t care in which direction they were consolidated.
Mr. Schmutter stated: “They should be neutral on that, but they’re not. They opposed consolidation into Koons. And what that reveals is that they are, in fact, judge shopping. In the state of New Jersey, no litigant gets to make that decision.”
Attempting to steer the case away from a judge who has already made a favorable ruling may be an indication the State believes it doesn’t have a strong case.
Another interesting element of the discussion had to do with the order of the consolidation with regard to issuing the TRO in the yet-undecided Siegel v. Platkin case before Judge Williams.
Mr. Schmutter advised, “There’s judicial economy as to our application and judicial economy as to the Koons’ application for preliminary injunction. So if the consolidation takes place immediately, then Judge Bumb decides the TRO, 98 percent of the work is done.”
Judge Bumb had already issued a very thorough 62-page analysis along with her TRO decision. Once the cases are consolidated under Judge Bumb, one very likely outcome – due to the very similar nature of the cases – is that she may very well issue a TRO in the Siegel v. Platkin case.
Mr. Schmutter also made a very eloquent summary of the ground-breaking Supreme Court Bruen decision from last year:
“And if there’s any question about whether the purpose of this law (A4769) is to stop people from carrying guns, all you need to know is that Bruen says that when you walk out your door, you should be able to carry a handgun for self-defense; and the very first thing every single person has to do is unload and lock up their gun and put it in the trunk of their car. The moment you walk out your door, you have to be disarmed. So it’s impossible to come away from this law and not see what they’re trying to do here. There’s a fundamental disregard for the Bruen case. And so it’s very important to look at it that way, because once you look at it that way, you can see what they’re doing.”
Judge Williams, a Biden appointee, made an omission that may indicate the types of outcomes to expect in such cases: “These issues are important, widespread, and the Supreme Court has spoken. So on some level, sometimes, you know, I will say, wow, we wish this was clearer. Not the case here, though, is it?”
Another interesting observation offered by Mr. Schmutter had to do with the Supreme Court keeping a watchful eye on Second Amendment cases:
“It’s interesting that counsel mentioned Antonyuk because we all read the same comments from Justice Alito. He is not happy at all so — but recognizes procedure and how things ought to be orderly. But, yeah, he’s not happy.”
As previously reported at News2A, Justices Alito Thomas wrote in an emergency appeal decision on Antonyuk (the New York state carry-killer bill): “Applicants should not be deterred by today’s order from again seeking relief if the Second Circuit does not, within a reasonable time, provide an explanation for its stay order or expedite consideration of appeal.”
After hearing oral arguments from both sides, Federal District Court Judge Karen M. Williams consolidated Siegel v. Platkin (the ANJRPC case) into Koons v. Reynolds (the FPC/CNJFO case) that will be heard by the Honorable Renee Marie Bumb, who is already presiding over the Koons v. Reynolds case.