Justice misfires over gun


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campergeek
July 23, 2005, 08:31 PM
"Respect my authority!"... or ....
"Commit a crime or go to jail!"... or ...

Make up your own title for this ridiculous situation (http://eb.cx/7s)

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Snake Eyes
July 23, 2005, 08:44 PM
I just can't fathom this. It raises my ire beyond trite and pithy one liners.

Standing Wolf will be along soon to express the appropriate sentiment, appropriately.

MSGT9410
July 23, 2005, 08:44 PM
:scrutiny:

"Dirrh!"

GRB
July 23, 2005, 08:55 PM
Duff said Friday that she had ordered Ritchie arrested because she had been disrespectful. Disrespectful? Disrespectful??? Of what, of a pompous, self righteous, judge who did not have enough respect, decency or professionalism to read the letter in front of her or to hear out the person standing in her courtroom! The pity is that another judge did order Duff a kick in the duff and then some jail time to boot.

JohnBT
July 23, 2005, 08:56 PM
I went looking for the judge's e-mail address, but all I found was a pic. It's probably all for the best that I didn't find her e-mail - she'd probably call me a liar and say mean and nasty things about me, too.

http://www.co.madison.il.us/CircuitCourt/duff.jpg

GRB
July 23, 2005, 08:58 PM
In my opinion:

Not reading the letter = blind justice

Not listening to one of the parties in court = deaf justice

Throwing the woman in jail for contempt = dumb justice

My guess is that in Duffland, justice is not just blind:

Justice is deaf, dumb and blind!

Standing Wolf
July 23, 2005, 09:09 PM
Duff said Friday that she had ordered Ritchie arrested because she had been disrespectful.
"This was a disgruntled person who flat out refused, blatantly and disrespectfully in open court, to comply with a court order," Duff said.

Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, America's judicial oligarchy wears black robes.

Jim K
July 23, 2005, 09:13 PM
Sent the following letter to the Post-Dispatch:

"Having read Paul Hampel's article, Justice Misfires Over Gun, in the Saturday Post-Dispatch, I cannot help but wonder if it is standard practice in Missouri for a judge to order a person to violate not only state law but also Federal law, and then to jail that person for refusing to do so.

I think the judge in this case needs a lesson in the law, and needs to apologize to that woman and arrange compensation. Or maybe the judge is considering the idea of ordering a bank robbery, or a "hit" on an enemy; after all, if one law violation can be ordered, why not more?"

Jim

grimjaw
July 23, 2005, 09:15 PM
Jim, +1

Joejojoba111
July 23, 2005, 09:23 PM
Remember Casino with DeNiro, where he fires the politician's nephew? He says, "Either he's crooked or he's stupid, either way I can't have him here."

Same for this judge. There's no way she could legitimately hold that position, either she's crooked or she's stupid, one or the other, either way she's obviously unfit for the position. I hope she gets fired, and I hope she gets fired in such a way that she doesn't get a pension.

Moondoggie
July 23, 2005, 09:24 PM
If there is any "Justice", Judge Duff should serve exactly the same number of hours & minutes behind bars as her wrongfully imprisoned victim did. Under the same conditions, no preferential treatment due to her status as a judge.

Maybe then she'd think twice before flying off the handle.

She needs to learn the consequences of her actions first-hand.

Best case, she gets voted out of office if that's a possibility.

Pilgrim
July 23, 2005, 09:38 PM
I think a complaint to the state's judicial council or body that exercises oversight over judge's behavior should be made. That will be up to Mrs. Ritchie.

Pilgrim

dpesec
July 23, 2005, 09:47 PM
If the story is true, and I have no reason to think otherwise and the woman was not disrespectful it another case of a judicary that's gone over the edge. Think about the situtation. This woman follows the order, and is arrested by ATF for following the orders. We all know how understanding ATF is.

I wonder if she chould have transfered the gun to the court and had the judge transfer it to the felon :evil: .
Ok I know that would never fly, but boy would it be an interesting problem.
I hope somebody keeps on top of this one.

campergeek
July 23, 2005, 09:52 PM
Having read Paul Hampel's article, Justice Misfires Over Gun, in the Saturday Post-Dispatch, I cannot help but wonder if it is standard practice in Missouri for a judge to order a person to violate not only state law but also Federal law, and then to jail that person for refusing to do so.

Jim, good letter, but to make one minor correction this occurred in Illinois, not Missouri. Minor issues such as legalities don't stand in the way of local or state legislators over there, so why should they stand in the way of judicial authorities?

Jim K
July 23, 2005, 10:12 PM
Ooops! I sure goofed on that one. I won't try to correct it now; I doubt they would publish it anyway coming from out of state.

Jim

pcf
July 23, 2005, 11:08 PM
Slow down a second, if you've ever been divorced and tried to get your stolen possessions back, it can can be a major pain in the ass. The judge absolutely did the right thing, usually the judge will come up with 10,001 excuses for you not to get your firearms back. Good on the judge for not being a gun grabber.

Wow, the woman decided to mail letters, to "court officials" but never notified the judge, or the judge's clerk. If I call the cops in Atlanta, GA I'm sure they'll send someone over to take care of my drunk and rowdy neighbor.

Whether the man's a felon or not, it was not the woman's firearm, she and her father stole it. Right, wrong, indifferent, stealing is stealing. Steal someone's property and get jammed up in a bad spot, expect zero sympathy.

If you ever get divorced and your firearms stolen, pray you have a judge this willing to get them returned to you.

JohnKSa
July 23, 2005, 11:11 PM
"Don't bother me with facts and legalities! I'm the judge and you are the minion--comply with my commands or be punished."

It's nice that she's so contrite after things came into the open... NOT. :rolleyes:

There's somebody who clearly doesn't need to be a judge any more--in fact, it's likely that she should never have been a judge in the first place.

pcf,

Read the article again. The judge had posession of the letter even as she was making the commands. She just couldn't be bothered to read it.

GRB
July 23, 2005, 11:22 PM
Whether the man's a felon or not, it was not the woman's firearmI don't know about that state but, I think, in most states it would be considered community property in a marriage. As for the judge, she was absolutely wrong to order a gun be returned to a convicted felon as this is a violation of federal law. She should have read all the evidence and allowed the woamn to speak. Then she should have made the decision on how to proceed. I do not care if she is not a gun grabber, she was wrong - in my opinion and I base that on lots of expereince in courtrooms.
All the best,
Glenn B

Ky Larry
July 23, 2005, 11:41 PM
This is what happens when government officials no longer have to worry about tar and feathers. :fire:

SpaceCowboy
July 23, 2005, 11:50 PM
Wow, the woman decided to mail letters, to "court officials" but never notified the judge, or the judge's clerk

As john points out from the article the judge had the letter in front of her and SHOULD have known because she SHOULD be performing the duties for which she was appointed and done so with competency.

Whether the man's a felon or not, it was not the woman's firearm, she and her father stole it. Right, wrong, indifferent, stealing is stealing. Steal someone's property and get jammed up in a bad spot, expect zero sympathy.

Yes stealing is stealing(if you ever need to steal a loaf of bread to feed your family I'll remind the judge to give no quarter as you expect none); though she did not steal it, her father did--or at least he was in possession of it. However, the man was convicted of two separate felonies including a drug charge. Felons can not possess firearms--however right or wrong that may be. Assuming he was legal in the first place(on the state level here), he certainly would have had his FOID card revoked at that point and no longer able to possess a firearm. To transfer a firerarm to a felon is a crime if not a felony. To transfer a firearm to an individual NOT in possession of an FOID card is a felony.


If you ever get divorced and your firearms stolen, pray you have a judge this willing to get them returned to you.

I agree with you on this one. Especially happening in Illinois, this is very much a surprise move by the judge. Though Wood River is not in Cook Co., it is in Maddison Co. and therefore, makes a great difference.

pcf
July 24, 2005, 12:47 AM
Why wasn't his man's criminal record ever entered into evidence?
Since when in any court of law is it appropiate to enter evidence after a judge has issued a ruling?
Since when is a piece of supposedly and randomly delivered mail, evidence?
Since when is legal for either party to withhold pertinent evidence from a judge?

There's a time and place to enter evidence, if you miss that mark there is a defined method to enter evidence into a case. Pulling crap out of one's purse after a judge has issued a ruling isn't one of them.

How exactly is the judge supposed to know that this man is a convicted felon?

What if it was the other way,
-Woman accusses man of being felon,
-Judge refuses to return property,
-Woman sells expensive gun collection
-Man was not convicted felon,
-Man will never see gun collection again
-"Tar and feather judge", "Pinkos legslating from bench", "Anti judge refuses to view evidence" etc etc

JohnKSa
July 24, 2005, 01:08 AM
pcf,

You still haven't read the article.

It clearly states that when the father of the defendant approached the bench he saw the letter in question already in front of the judge.

SpaceCowboy
July 24, 2005, 01:28 AM
Why wasn't his man's criminal record ever entered into evidence?
We don't know that it wasn't: Duff said a court reporter was not present at the hearing,

Since when in any court of law is it appropiate to enter evidence after a judge has issued a ruling?
When the judge's ruling violates public safety, like transfering a firearm to a convicted felon.

Since when is a piece of supposedly and randomly delivered mail, evidence?
Beth Ritchie said she had mailed certified letters a month before Thursday's hearing to three court officials - Associate Judge Nelson Metz, State's Attorney Bill Mudge and Circuit Clerk Matt Melucci
These are not random individuals and she never received a response to her letters or her phone calls.


Since when is legal for either party to withhold pertinent evidence from a judge?
Assumably, it wasn't pertinent until the judge ordered this woman to commit a felony. Though the evidence was presented before the trial as "I could see the letter Beth had written, outlining the whole matter, right there on the bench in front of her (Duff),

Pulling crap out of one's purse after a judge has issued a ruling isn't one of them.
As John said, read the article. No one pulled anything from anywhere.

How exactly is the judge supposed to know that this man is a convicted felon?
She could have found out quite easily for herself, and should have, after reading the letter from this woman. The state's attorney received a letter and a phone call, should he not have investigated the validity of this claim as well?

Seems like the judge, as well as others, made a mistake and they should make reparations for the consequences their actions had on this woman; even if that would be as simple as an admission of their mistake and an appology.

rust collector
July 24, 2005, 02:02 AM
Wait a minute. I see a bunch of folks passing judgment on a situation in which their only information comes from a news story fed by a divorce combatant. Deep down, I think most of you realize that things are seldom as simple as they seem, and news media don't necessarily get it right.

I am sure that the gun in question could have been delivered to the husband's qualified designee with no problem, but the individual responsible for its removal didn't want to resolve the problem. She wanted (her father) to keep the gun.

You'll read about judges doing some wacky things, and after all, they are human and prone to human failings. They are, however, on the front line of some epic battles involving folks determined to get their way regardless of the consequences to others.

The absence of an official record of the proceeding, especially when a contempt order is entered, is interesting. I suspect there is a lot more to this story and will wait for further details.

RevDisk
July 24, 2005, 04:06 AM
Slow down a second, if you've ever been divorced and tried to get your stolen possessions back, it can can be a major pain in the ass. The judge absolutely did the right thing, usually the judge will come up with 10,001 excuses for you not to get your firearms back. Good on the judge for not being a gun grabber.

If the guy was a felon, it's illegal to give him a gun regardless of circumstances. That simple. Doesn't matter how I feel about the laws regarding felons, that's just how it is. No one, as far as I know, has the legal right to hand him back a firearm if he's a felon. Not the cops, not the lady, not the judge.

berettashotgun
July 24, 2005, 08:53 AM
Common' guys, The guys father had presented the firearm as a gift.. sure he was a IDIOT for giving his son a pistol, but I didn't read a single issue about the woman even CONTACTING her exfather-in-law about returning the pistol to the RIGHTFUL owner- the exfather-in-law. Personally been divorced 2x, and just got thru a long stretch of child support costing $1200 per month for 2 kids.I know about a greedy ex. IMHO, the reporter of the story sensationalized the whole affair- more than likely the female got a little catty with the Judge. Seen that happen to my kids mother, jail time and all.

joab
July 24, 2005, 09:20 AM
Looks like they were both playing a game of Who's the Boss and both got caught up in their own egos.
Personnally I believe either of them
Swift said he asked whether the pistol could be given to Duff to transfer, "so that we wouldn't be the ones breaking the law." In '92 I was arrested for politely asking one cop to please let me answer his partner's questions before I addressed his.
I believe my exact words were "Shut the **** up @@@hole, I can only talk to one *&@^head at a time and I'm talking to your ****buddy right now

Disrespect is in the eye of the beholder

308win
July 24, 2005, 09:32 AM
Welcome to East St. Louis - this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Lt. G
July 24, 2005, 09:34 AM
Another Judge with the miniature King complex, (I control everything in my realm, and I am always right!!!!!), how refreshing!!!!

Perhaps this will teach her to flush out her headgear every once in a while.

308win
July 24, 2005, 09:36 AM
Sent the following letter to the Post-Dispatch:
"Having read Paul Hampel's article, Justice Misfires Over Gun, in the Saturday Post-Dispatch, I cannot help but wonder if it is standard practice in Missouri for a judge to order a person to violate not only state law but also Federal law, and then to jail that person for refusing to do so.

I am sure Duff will feel dutifully chastised by your letter since this happened in Illinois.

armoredman
July 24, 2005, 10:46 AM
I would own her....

Jeff Timm
July 24, 2005, 03:07 PM
Hummm....
Has this been reported the BATF? Didn't the judge engage in conspiracy to committ a feloney?

Geoff
Who is not a lawyer, thank God.

Jeff White
July 24, 2005, 06:30 PM
Beth Ritchie is guilty of stupidity at the least (for being too cheap to hire an attorney) and aggravated ignorance at the most (for trying to argue with the judge).

Look at the timeline in the article:

The Ritchies got married in 2002 and divorced last year.

That makes the year of the divorce 2004. Obviously the pistol as granted to the husband as part of the marital settlement agreement then. However;

Beth Ritchie said she did not know of her husband's felony convictions until she opened a letter in 2003 from the Illinois State Police declining Tim Ritchie's request for a Firearm Owner's Identification Card.

A year before the divorce, Beth Ritchie knew her husband was a prohibited person and allegedly did this;

Beth Ritchie said that, without her husband's knowledge, she had asked her father, Richard Swift, of Grafton, to take the pistol out of the couple's house in 2003.

So, I have to ask; If Beth Ritchie knew her husband was a prohibited person in 2003 and was:

"I was worried about Tim having the gun there, that it was illegal and could get us both in trouble," she said

Why wasn't the issue of Tim Ritchie being a prohibited person addressed when the property was divided in the original court action? She admits that she knew Tim Ritchie was a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing firearms in 2004 when the divorce was filed. One could assume that maybe she was just banking on the fact that the court would look at Tim Ritchie's felony conviction and say she could keep the pistol (which she had already transferred to her father). Even though Tim Ritchie is a convicted felon and couldn't personally possess the pistol, he still could have exercised control over it's disposition as it was awarded to him in the original divorce settlement.

It's not very smart to go to court on a hearing where you have to show cause as to why you didn't comply with the original court order represented by your father (unless your father is an attorney).

You have to know how business is conducted. Perhaps if she had hired an attorney to represent her and file a motion asking that the contempt charge (for violating the original court order awarding Tim Ritchie the pistol), be dismissed and proposing that she either pay Tim Ritchie the value of the pistol or transfer the pistol to someone Tim Ritchie designated who had a valid FOID card and could legally possess the pistol. Instead of:

Beth Ritchie said she had mailed certified letters a month before Thursday's hearing to three court officials - Associate Judge Nelson Metz, State's Attorney Bill Mudge and Circuit Clerk Matt Melucci - informing them of the legal dilemma over the pistol. She said she followed the letters up with calls but never heard back from the officials.

Her plea may actually have been part of the case before they ever got to court.

As for the contempt of court that allegedly caused Beth Ritchie to be jailed, since there is no court reporter and no transcript, it's her and her father's word against the judges. Circuit judges are appointed, then stand election to be retained in their jobs. Perhaps the poeple of Madison County should remember this....

Once again the old adage that says something about the person who acts as their own attorney has a fool for a client is proven...

308 Win;

The county seat of Madison County is in Edwardsville. East St Louis is in St Clair County, one county to the South.

Jeff

Hawkmoon
July 24, 2005, 08:02 PM
I am sure that the gun in question could have been delivered to the husband's qualified designee with no problem, but the individual responsible for its removal didn't want to resolve the problem. She wanted (her father) to keep the gun.
Sorry, but on the basis of the article, all she and her father asked was a way to comply with both the court order and the law. The article states that they offered to turn the gun over to the judge and allow the judge to then convey it to the husband, but the judge refused.

As to how the judge might verify that the husband was an ex-felon -- he was in the court. Not to belabour the obvious, but ... she could have asked him.

Double Maduro
July 24, 2005, 08:37 PM
You still haven't read the article.

It clearly states that when the father of the defendant approached the bench he saw the letter in question already in front of the judge.

Yep, that's exactly what dad told the reporter, uh-huh. Now dad wouldn't lie, would he? Of course not, after all he didn't have anything to gain.

DM

joab
July 25, 2005, 12:21 AM
The article states that they offered to turn the gun over to the judge and allow the judge to then convey it to the husband, but the judge refused. Actually he asked if she could be the one to break the law by returning it to the ex. And we don't know the tone or exact words he used.

Clash of egos

rust collector
July 25, 2005, 12:33 AM
Perhaps turning the gun over to the judge strikes you as a good solution, Hawkmoon, but I'd prefer that judges stay out of the chain of custody. It sounds as if this "offer" was a cynical rebuff to the judge's order, rather than an attempt to resolve the issue in good faith. The gun could have been delivered to the other party's father who gave it to him, or even to a dealer for resale with proceeds to the rightful owner.

All of you who think (based upon information in the article) that Mr. Swift should be able to keep the gun, please chime in.

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