The Maryland Attorney General’s Office has asked U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Motz for a status conference in the Woollard case according to a letter they sent on Friday. This case was brought on behalf of Raymond Woollard by the Second Amendment Foundation over the state’s denial of the renewal of his concealed carry permit. The State Police and the Maryland Handgun Permit Board contend that Mr. Woollard failed to show “apprehended danger” and thus was denied a renewal of his permit.
Maryland is requesting the status conference because Alan Gura indicated to them on Thursday that he intended to file a motion for summary judgment.
Defendants believe that engaging in summary judgment practice at this stage of the litigation is premature, and have communicated that to plaintiffs. Defendants understand that plaintiffs nonetheless intend to file a motion for summary judgment as soon as today. In light of that, defendants request that the Court hold a status conference in the near future to address the issue of the timing of filing summary judgment motions. Plaintiffs have stated that they do not believe there is any need for a scheduling conference at this time.
So far in the case, Maryland has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of abstention, questions on the standing of the Second Amendment Foundation, and a Rule 12(b)(6) challenge to one of the counts. This was responded to by the plaintiffs and then a reply to the response from the defendants. At no time has either side engaged in discovery nor has the State of Maryland argued that their law doesn’t violate the Second Amendment. A motion for summary judgment is brought when the facts of the case are known and a ruling is being sought on the application of the law to the known facts.
Commentators on the Maryland Shooters forum speculate that Maryland has been dragging their feet on the case and the plaintiffs are making a strategic move to get them moving. They well could be right. This will bear watching.
UPDATE: Alan Gura was true to his word and filed his Motion for Summary Judgment this morning.
He also filed a letter in response to the Maryland Attorney General’s Office request for a status conference. He says that he didn’t think that “the routine filing of a cross-dispositive motion does not occasion a status conference.”
His letter examines the rules for filing motions for summary judgment. He notes that under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 56(c)(1) he could have filed a motion for summary judgment at the same time he filed the complaint in this case. If the state thinks his motion is premature, Gura says they can file a motion under Rule 56(f) to seek discovery which would identify which facts it expect discovery to produce. Nonetheless, he goes on to say that his motion is “aimed exclusively at a legal, not a factual, dispute” and that Rule 56(f) would not apply.
He goes on to add:
Indeed, even if this Court were to grant Defendants’ motion to dismiss and deny Plaintiffs’ motion as moot, the appellate courts would prefer a complete record. For example, the leading Second Amendment case, District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (2008), saw both the D.C. Circuit and Supreme Court grant a plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment that the district court did not reach, as it had granted defendants’ motion to dismiss. Had the summary judgment motion not been filed, that case would still be unresolved.
He concludes by saying that if the rules and well-established practice allow his motion and if the State of Maryland objects, then the rules give them a way to make that argument. In the meantime, the plaintiffs are entitled to ask for relief and to put it on the record.
I will post on the Summary Motion after I have had time to read it. It is a darn shame when paying work gets in the way of blogging!
UPDATE II: On Wednesday, Judge J. Frederick Motz sent a memo to both the plaintiffs and defense attorneys. He ordered a status conference to be held by phone on Friday, November 19th at 11am. While the court records indicate that the status conference was held, nothing was said about any agreements, schedules, or any other item.