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7th Circuit offers alternatives to destroying guns

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a District judge's order that a defendant's guns be destroyed instead of returned to him, ruling that there were other alternatives than what the District Court considered.

In United States of America v. Leroy F. Miller, No. 09-2256, Leroy Miller appealed the decision to have the federal government compensate him for the 34 guns taken following his conviction of aiding and abetting the possession of firearms by a felon. Miller had asked for his guns to be returned because the government failed to timely file an order for forfeiture.

Miller can't possess his guns until his sentence is served. The District Court declined to allow a relative or friend to hold the guns for Miller because it would leave Miller in constructive possession of them. He then argued for the government to sell the weapons and give him the money, but the District Court instead ordered the guns destroyed and Miller reimbursed under the Tucker Act.

"It is hard to see how either the United States or Miller can be made better off by replacing an actual sale with litigation in which the parties will offer expert evaluations of the weapons' market value, and the Treasury will be out of pocket that amount (because destroying the guns does not produce any revenue to cover the cost of a judgment under the Tucker Act)," wrote Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook.

The District Court made that decision because it believed all other alternatives were unlawful, but the 7th Circuit saw otherwise. Miller could actually possess one of the guns because it is an antique. To solve the issue for the other guns, the Circuit judges proposed several options. The guns could be gifted to a friend or relative who would then be informed if they return the guns to Miller, they could be prosecuted for aiding and abetting unlawful possession, wrote Chief Judge Easterbrook.

The firearms could be transferred in a trust to a reliable trustee that will not return the guns to Miller unless he is legally able to possess them. The U.S. could also store the guns while Miller is unable to have them, the chief judge wrote.

"If the United States does not want to sell them for his account, then it must offer Miller some other lawful option," such as the ones listed by the Circuit Court, Chief Judge Easterbrook wrote.

The Circuit Court remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.

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  1. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

  2. What a fine example of the best of the Hoosier tradition! How sad that the AP has to include partisan snark in the obit for this great American patriot and adventurer.

  3. Why are all these lawyers yakking to the media about pending matters? Trial by media? What the devil happened to not making extrajudicial statements? The system is falling apart.

  4. It is a sad story indeed as this couple has been only in survival mode, NOT found guilty with Ponzi, shaken down for 5 years and pursued by prosecution that has been ignited by a civil suit with very deep pockets wrenched in their bitterness...It has been said that many of us are breaking an average of 300 federal laws a day without even knowing it. Structuring laws, & civilForfeiture laws are among the scariest that need to be restructured or repealed . These laws were initially created for drug Lords and laundering money and now reach over that line. Here you have a couple that took out their own money, not drug money, not laundering. Yes...Many upset that they lost money...but how much did they make before it all fell apart? No one ask that question? A civil suit against Williams was awarded because he has no more money to fight...they pushed for a break in order...they took all his belongings...even underwear, shoes and clothes? who does that? What allows that? Maybe if you had the picture of him purchasing a jacket at the Goodwill just to go to court the next day...his enemy may be satisfied? But not likely...bitterness is a master. For happy ending lovers, you will be happy to know they have a faith that has changed their world and a solid love that many of us can only dream about. They will spend their time in federal jail for taking their money from their account, but at the end of the day they have loyal friends, a true love and a hope of a new life in time...and none of that can be bought or taken That is the real story.

  5. Could be his email did something especially heinous, really over the top like questioning Ind S.Ct. officials or accusing JLAP of being the political correctness police.

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