I can imagine the ribbing in the police locker room: “Man, Bill, that Joel Rosenberg guy really punked you. He schooled you on the law on video, then got the county to start investigating you for assault, and rubbed it in across the internet. I wish I’d been there, I’d have…” followed by one of those fantasies that are so easy to come up with five minutes after the event is over, involving false arrest and probably unlawful force.
Sergeant William Palmer, not feeling very alpha, takes it in silence—he’s not going to tell these guys that he didn’t arrest Rosenberg at the scene because, dagnabbit, he thought Joel was probably right about the law—but he fumes and wonders. The teasing continues, aided by Rosenberg’s unremitting use of social media to twit Palmer, until finally Palmer decides to get back at Rosenberg, and swears out an arrest warrant (PDF).
The warrant is for the felony of carrying a firearm in the courthouse. Because carrying a firearm in the courthouse complex is a felony—except for “persons who carry pistols according to the terms of a permit issued under section 624.714 and who so notify the sheriff or the commissioner of public safety, as appropriate”—which, oddly enough, is a category into which Joel neatly fits. And except that the city hall is not really a part of the courthouse complex, but a judge says it is.
The warrant is also for contempt of court because, you see, there was a judge’s order declaring the police station a courthouse (how many legs does a dog have, if a judge says that a tail is a leg?) and barring citizens from carrying firearms there—except that, among other problems, “no sheriff, police chief, governmental unit, government official, government employee, or other person or body acting under color of law or governmental authority may … limit the exercise of a permit to carry.”
Here’s the PC from the arrest warrant on the contempt of court:
Yes, it is in fact alleged that he DESCRIBE BEHAVIOR in contempt of the Hennepin County Juvenile Court. Now, I ask you: can we really have people like Joel Rosenberg going around DESCRIBE BEHAVIOR? I say not, and I say we should DESCRIBE KANGAROO PROCEDURE and then DESCRIBE BIZARRE AND PAINFUL PUNISHMENT them.
I don’t ordinarily pick on other people’s judges—Texas being a target-rich environment—but what kind of Ruben-Guerrero judge is Janet Poston, to sign an arrest warrant based on the allegation that someone has DESCRIBE BEHAVIOR? She didn’t even bother to read the papers.
Here (PDF) is the court order made DATE OF ORDER that Rosenberg is allegedly in contempt of by DESCRIBE BEHAVIOR). It’s not an order of the Hennepin County Juvenile Court, and it doesn’t, by its terms, cover the building at 350 South Fifth Street in Minneapolis. This order unlawfully limits the exercise of a permit to carry, but it does so at 300 South Fifth Street.
A court order, to be enforceable by contempt, has to be specific enough to give people notice of what is forbidden. Bottom line: the charges wouldn’t stick, and Bill Palmer knew it, just as he had known from the beginning. But, hey, at least Palmer could get a little bit of his manhood back in the eyes of the boys in the locker room by arresting Joel. Rosenberg might beat the rap, but he can’t beat the ride.
So Rosenberg sits in jail tonight, held in lieu of a $100,000 bond. Many people, facing a 0–5 year felony and excessive bail, would plead guilty to a misdemeanor just to get out an home to their families. Joel Rosenberg is, I think, cut of different cloth. He’s got an excellent lawyer—David M. Gross—on his case and, as Greenfield notes, a wife who supports him.
So Rosenberg will sit in jail dealing with his health problems, and Rosenberg will fight the case, and Rosenberg will win the case. And, before all is said and done, Sergeant Palmer’s little self-esteem-fluffing exercise will cost the city a pretty penny.
Follow the story as it develops here.