Connecticut: "State court to rule on guns in cabs"


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cuchulainn
May 9, 2003, 12:08 PM
from the New Haven Register

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=7959122&BRD=1281&PAG=461&dept_id=7573&rfi=6State court to rule on guns in cabs

William Kaempffer, Register Staff May 09, 2003

The state Supreme Court has opted to rule on a New Haven judge’s determination that taxi drivers can carry guns in their cabs even if they don’t have permit to carry

Last week, the high court decided to take the case from the appellate court level. The New Haven State’s Attorney’s office appealed a 2002 ruling by Superior Court Judge Lubbie Harper that prosecutors contend sets a frightening precedent that might allow anyone from ice cream vendors and traveling salesmen to pack heat in their vehicles.

The high court is expected to consider the case in its next session, which begins in September.

"It is not frequent (that the high court intercedes and takes a case) but it happens from time to time," said William F. Dow III, a New Haven-based defense attorney. "Essentially, the Supreme Court will reach out and take a case that they’re particularly interested in or a case that will have particular import."

The case revolves around a June 15, 2001, fatal shooting by Metro Taxi driver John Lutters, who killed his fare during a robbery attempt in the Fair Haven neighborhood. Lutters said his assailant, Travis Hazelwood, 38, menaced him with a pair of scissors.

Police and prosecutors determined the shooting was justified, but charged Lutters with carrying a pistol without a permit, a class D felony that carries maximum penalties of five years in prison and $5,000 fines.

In 2002, Harper threw out the charge after concluding that the cab was Lutters’ place of business and thereby made him exempt from the pistol permit requirement.

State law requires gun owners who want to carry their weapon in public to obtain a special license, but that law does not extend to people who want to keep one in their place of business, so long as they have a "proprietary interest."

Lutters leased the cab, so Harper ruled that he qualified for the exemption.

Assistant State’s Attorney John P. Doyle, who prosecuted the case, argued that, if cab drivers are exempt, "where’s the line drawn?"

Lutters’ attorney, Robert M. Berke, said he was prepared to proceed before the high court.

"You can see the arguments of both sides," Berke said. "However, I happen to disagree with the state’s argument."

Assistant State’s Attorney Michele Lukban, a lawyer with the appellate division of the Chief State’s Attorney’s office, said it not unusual for the high court to take a case, particularly in a case where there is no legal precedent.

"It’s not too surprising, considering this is a case of first impression," she said.

Lukban said she anticipated oral arguments would be scheduled this fall and a decision sometime next year.

From a legal perspective, Dow said, Harper’s decision appears to be sound, but added that the entire ordeal seemed more like a gun control than legal issue.

"It’s a policy issue as opposed to a legal issue," he said. However, for the cabbies, he acknowledged, it’s probably more personal. "Do you know how dangerous it is to drive a cab in an urban area? Some people would say that the fellows who have that job are moving targets."

"Personally I’m not a big gun fan, but I understand the arguments and there’s a certain amount of danger involved."

William Kaempffer can be reached at wkaempffer@nhregister.com, or at 789-5727.

©New Haven Register 2003

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Boats
May 9, 2003, 01:07 PM
In the actual United States, 34 and counting, this wouldn't even be an issue of first impression, merely the latest justified self-defense slaying of a perpetrator of armed robbery.:rolleyes:

Standing Wolf
May 9, 2003, 11:32 PM
...a frightening precedent that might allow anyone from ice cream vendors and traveling salesmen to pack heat in their vehicles...

Only leftist extremists and complete fools are afraid of armed law-abiding American citizens.

Desertdog
May 10, 2003, 08:37 PM
Looks to me like they just want to overturn the ruling.
Have to wait and see.

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