Watching Alan Gura and the attorneys for the City of Chicago go at it in the Ezell case is like watching a fencing competition. It is attack and counter-attack, thrust and parry, lunge and counter-lunge. No foils or epees for these lawyers. Instead it is sabers and no protective headgear all the way.
Right about now (Sept 16th at 5pm EDT) Alan Gura and David Sigale are going into court in Chicago for a hearing on their motion for a temporary restraining order against the City of Chicago. They are seeking this TRO so that the Action Target, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Illinois State Rifle Association can open a portable firing range in Chicago. The firing range is built on a trailer which has bullet traps, bullet-proof walls, sound dampening, and room for three shooting lanes. These types of ranges are often used in law enforcement training and for weapons demonstrations. They want to open up this range so that people can meet the live-fire requirements of the Chicago Firearms Permit (CFP).
Unlike the NRA’s case, Benson et al v. Chicago et al, this case has featured frontal legal assaults by the City of Chicago’s Legal Department from almost Day One. These assaults have been met with fierce counter-attacks by Gura and Sigale along with some surprises of their own. To use an analogy, Benson is like the war on the Western Front during WWII while Ezell is like the war on the Eastern Front. The latter was vicious and brutal with no quarter asked nor given.
And so it is with these cases. I don’t know if it is because the City of Chicago is still fuming mad that they lost the McDonald case or because they respect the legal acumen of Alan Gura and don’t want to be caught short again. Nonetheless, the war started four days after the original filing in this case.
On August 20th, the City of Chicago filed a Local Rule 40.4 Motion to have Ezell reassigned to Judge Ronald Guzman on the ground of relatedness. The amended complaint in Benson gave Chicago the needed entry point as it also challenged the ban on gun ranges in Chicago. Numerous websites that rank judges have put Judge Guzman near or at the bottom of all the judges in the North District of Illinois.
In response to this move, the plaintiffs filed for a temporary restraining order on August 22nd. This ended up being denied without prejudice which meant that it could be brought again later. At that same time, Judge Virginia Kendall set the schedule for discovery, responses, and counter-responses. Discovery was due to end on September 13th, responses due by September 20th, replies to these due a week later, and hearings set for October 1st. Chicago made an oral motion for a slower schedule and were denied.
Now it starts to get really messy. The City of Chicago started taking their depositions of the plaintiffs and related third parties. In the process of taking these depositions, they forgot to give notice to the plaintiff’s attorneys which was required. Alan Gura filed a motion for an emergency motion on September 10th to quash these unserved subpoenas. He also asked for sanctions against the City of Chicago for their actions. Chicago claimed it was a clerical oversight and the court let them off the hook.
This Monday, September 13th, Alan Gura and David Sigale again filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against Chicago so that the range could be opened. The range would open on September 24th if allowed.
Chicago retaliated with a motion to “vacate briefing schedule and preliminary injunction hearing” which was set for October 1st. They are really pushing hard to have this case sent to Judge Guzman and out of Judge Kendall’s court.
Alan Gura responded with an especially harsh attack on the City of Chicago calling this motion frivolous and only meant to delay the proceedings. He also accused Chicago of being abusive during discovery. Gura went on to say that none of their arguments were correct.
I plan to do a more in-depth analysis of the case this weekend. I have appended the docket report for this case to illustrate all the attack and counter-attacks.
UPDATE: Damn! The Temporary Restraining Order was denied. However, so was the motion by the City of Chicago that sought to delay long enough for Judge Guzman to rule on the Local Rule 40.4 motion. There is a status hearing set for Thursday, Sept 23rd.
On a side note, I checked out the American Bar Association ratings from when Judges Guzman and Kendall were nominated. The ratings are well qualified, qualified, and not qualified. Guzman was rated Qsm/NQmin. This meant that a strong majority thought he was qualified but a minority thought he was not qualified. Kendall, by contrast, was rated WQsm/Qmin which meant that everyone thought she was qualified and a strong majority thought she was well qualified.