The Journal of History     Fall 2003     TABLE OF CONTENTS


Rick Stanley Arrested for
Observing the Bill of Rights

Rick Stanley has been arrested for trying to maintain the right to keep and bear arms in the United States. He lives in Denver. It seems that Denver is what is known as a home rule city, so it is not supposed to have to adhere to either the US Constitution or even the Colorado state Constitution.

Judge Robert L. Patterson told Mr. Stanley's attorney, Paul Grant, that he was not to reference the Constitution, and that when he questioned a potential juror who is a police officer on whether she vowed to observe the US Constitution when she was hired that pandemonium broke out in the courtroom.

Protesting a Denver ordinance against bearing arms, business owner and Libertarian US Senate candidate Rick Stanley strapped on a hip holster in late 2002 bearing a .380 Beretta (fellow protester Duncan Philp chose a shoulder rig) during a December 15 rally celebrating the 210th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.

He'd advertised what he was going to do and invited Denver police to come get him. They did. He was peacefully arrested by 18 officers, and brought to trial on May 15, 2003 in the municipal court of Judge Robert L. Patterson.

Judge Patterson had previously sent an order to attorney Grant on this case stating that Grant was not to mention the Constitution during the proceeding. Grant did not understand clearly because the judge was not obeying federal law.

A jury of five women and one man, not including the police officer, was finally seated. Grant then presented to the judge (he was not allowed to make this argument to the jury) the affirmative defense that both the Second Amendment and the Constitution of Colorado, Article II, protect the defendant's right to keep and bear arms, citing a Colorado Supreme Case as a controlling precedent. Judge Patterson rejected that defense argument along with all because of this issue in Denver.

After closing arguments, MIT graduate David Bryant, who serves as public information director for the Libertarian Party of Colorado and also as Stanley's campaign treasurer, approached Assistant City Attorney Paul Puckett to see if he could clarify his understanding of Judge Patterson's remarks.

"As I understand it," Bryant said to Puckett, "Judge Patterson just said that because I live in Denver, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of Colorado do not protect any of my rights from the government of Denver. Is that your understanding? Is the city government free to deny all the rights secured to me by the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of Colorado, so long as they only do it here, in Denver?"

"Yes," Bryant claims he was told by Puckett. "The Constitution has no force or effect in Denver, because this is a home rule city." Reached at his office in Denver, Mr. Puckett responded: "Unfortunately the judge didn't say that, nor did I. Those were the words of Mr. Bryant, who reported them in his, whatever, on the Internet, not a very unbiased observer. What I did tell him in the courtroom was that Denver, as a home-rule city, has a right to pass reasonable regulations on the carrying of weapons. That's under their home-rule status and the constitution of the state of Colorado, and I referred him to a recent court of appeals case finding that ordinance constitutional. But no, the rest of it is fiction."

The jury reached a unanimous "guilty" verdict after deliberating one hour. Stanley could face a $999 fine and up to a year in jail at sentencing, now scheduled for July 25 even though no one was killed or injured. Stanley says he'll appeal.

If you want to contribute to the appeals fund, send checks to attorney Paul Grant
"for the defense of Rick Stanley and Duncan Philp" at 6426 S. Quebec Street, Englewood, CO 80111 USA.

Editor's note: Portions of this information were supplied by Vin Suprynowicz, of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on June 23, 2003. He is the Assistant Editorial Page Editor.

Mr. Suprynowicz is the author of The Ballad of Carl Drega.


The Journal of History - Fall 2003 Copyright © 2003 by News Source, Inc.