Knife Rights and an assortment of individuals are suing Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. and the City of New York over its vague definition of what constitutes gravity and switchblade knives. The case, Knife Rights et al v. Cyrus Vance, Jr., et al, is being tried in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. On Wednesday, US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest, a 2011 appointee of President Obama, dismissed the case stating that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they had not identified what was legal or not legal in their complaint.
Excuse me, Judge Forrest, but duh! The whole point of the lawsuit was to force New York to define exactly what knives were legal or not legal under their definition. The District Attorney has already agreed that the same make and model of a knife could be found to be both legal or illegal. If that isn’t vague, what is?
Another aspect of this case is that Vance was shaking down knife retailers for money with an efficiency that would make Mafia dons envious. He collected over $2 million from retailers trying to avoid prosecution.
Knife Rights says they plan to appeal this ruling. Their response to the ruling is below.
A U.S. District Court Judge has ruled that persons falsely arrested or threatened with arrest have no standing to sue in Knife Rights’ Federal civil rights lawsuit against New York City and District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Although every prior ruling in the case went our way under two previous judges, the case was recently reassigned to Obama appointee Katherine B. Forrest. Litigation always presents the risk that a judge (and especially a judge new to a case) will make an erroneous ruling.
On Wednesday the judge ruled that the plaintiffs in our case – who have been falsely arrested or threatened with arrest over common pocket knives – do not have standing to sue, in part because the case documents don’t identify specific knives that would be illegal under New York City’s interpretation of state law. The trouble is, it’s nearly impossible to identify them under New York City’s haphazard and inconsistent approach – which is the whole point of the case in the first place! Even the DA has admitted that different specimens of the exact same make and model knife could be simultaneously found to be both legal and illegal! Click to read the judge’s ruling.
So here we have a situation where we’re suing because we can’t know with certainty what’s legal or banned, yet the judge is saying we don’t have standing to sue precisely because we haven’t identified what’s legal or banned in our court papers. That’s simply absurd!
But even if the judge were correct – which she is not – she was required by well-established legal principles to allow us a chance to amend our papers to “correct” the supposed “defects.” Instead, she simply ignored these principles and declared the case over.
A similar situation arose in a recent lawsuit involving a U.S. District Judge in neighboring New Jersey. After straining to find supposed “defects” in the complaint that affected standing, the judge refused to allow the complaint to be amended to correct the “defects.” On appeal, the ruling was reversed and the appeals court criticized the judge, saying she had abused her discretion. The same thing could happen here.
But whatever happens, this ruling forces Knife Rights to spend more time and money to appeal the judge’s decision – all while Rome continues to burn. We still receive calls every week from innocent citizens whose lives have been turned upside down simply because they carried a basic tool, a pocket knife, in New York City. Thousands have been arrested on bogus illegal knife charges. In at least one instance of which we are aware, the result of the bogus arrest was that the victim’s entire knife collection was confiscated from his home. Gun owners have had their firearms confiscated based on bogus knife arrests.
We cannot let New York City succeed in its attempt to redefine “gravity knife” to include ordinary folding knives. This could become a model for other cities and jurisdictions across America, resulting in knife owners throughout the country being arrested for doing nothing wrong. We cannot let that happen! And, we will not!
Knife Rights is carefully planning its response to Judge Forrest’s ruling. We will never stop fighting for your rights, and neither should you. Please help us win this critical battle by contributing to Knife Rights Foundation’s Legal Fund today as generously as you can. We’ve led the fight to defend knife rights in the legislative arena and we are pioneering it in the courts. Please help us defend freedom!