Sunday, September 17, 2023

MT: AUSA Godfrey Opposes Detention Hearing in Gun Free School Zone Case

In the ongoing Gun Free School Zone case against Gabriel Metcalf in Billings Montana, Gabriel's  federal public defender, Russel Hart, has filed a motion requesting a detention hearing. The Assistant United States Attorney, (AUSA) Thomas K. Godfrey has indicated he opposes re-opening a detention hearing. This means Godfrey wants to keep Gabriel Metcalf in federal lockup in the Yellowstone County Detention Facility until trial. A trial could be years away. This case could go all the way to the Supreme Court.

The magistrate judge, Timothy J. Cavan has ordered the representative of the United States in this matter, AUSA Godfrey, to file its opposition to the motion for a detention hearing by September 15, 2023. This is due process. It is easy to see how the process can be abused. Once the brief opposing the detention hearing is filed, the judge will have to read it, digest it, make a decision, and inform the parties of the decision. The brief is due on September 15, which is Friday. I do not expect Judge Cavan to issue a decision until Monday, at the earliest. If Judge Cavan agrees with the defendant, and schedules a detention hearing, it will be days later, to allow for both parties to prepare. It is likely Gabriel Metcalf will have been locked up in jail for a month by the time the detention hearing is re-opened.

If Judge Cavan does not agree to re-open the detention hearing, then the defendant can appeal the decision to the District Judge.  That could take weeks longer.

In a conversation with Gabriel's mother, Vivian, Gabriel was at a low point on the morning of September 12. He had been locked up for three weeks. He posed the obvious question: What am I doing here? Why am I locked up? I did not do anything wrong. This is one of the purposes of pre-trial detention. If the prosecution can keep a defendant locked up long enough, they will often submit to a plea bargain to get them out of the limbo of pre-trial detention. There is no limit to the amount of time a person can be held awaiting trial. Some people have been held for years. There is no compensation for the months or years held in detention, if the person is found to be not guilty. Conditions in pre-trial detention are often worse than in prison.

About 90% of people charged in federal courts plead guilty with a plea agreement.

The Gun Free School Zone Act is blatantly unconstitutional. It is difficult to challenge in court, because federal prosecutors have been reluctant to bring standalone cases against people with no criminal record. Gabrial Metcalf's case is unusual, because he has no criminal history and no history of violence.

Gabriel, by merely being honest, protects everyone's rights along with his own. Gabriel has a chance of bringing down this unconstitutional law. It was already found to be unconstitutional in 1994. A constitutional challenge is unlikely if Gabriel accepts a plea deal.

Gabriel and his mother are poor as church mice.  Two years of dealing with threats and attacks on them, their home, their pets and their plants, combined with two months of being unable to work because of covid and pnemonia have left them without funds.


Vivian has set up a GiveSendGo account to aid in Gabriel’s defense and to keep the utilities on in her modest home. At 71, Vivian continues to work part-time and to take in alterations at her small alterations shop. Her home and pets remain at risk.

©2023 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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1 comment:

ScienceABC123 said...

Seriously, what percentage of homes in the USA are within gun-free schools zones? 20%, 30%, 40%? I'd really like to know Thomas Godfrey probably knows the law is going to be declared unconstitutional, and is probably using the process as the punishment.

"Even the direst circumstances cannot justify the loss of constitutional rights." - U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor