The Result Of Red Flag Laws

BY Herschel Smith
5 months ago

Jacob Sullum writing at Reason.com.

The allegations against Kevin Morgan were alarming. They described just the sort of circumstances that Florida legislators had in mind when they approved that state’s “red flag” law in 2018, three weeks after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Morgan’s estranged wife, Joanie, claimed he was depressed, suicidal, and obsessed with the apocalypse, which he thought was imminent. She said he was stockpiling food, gold, guns, and ammunition in anticipation of the end times; that he talked about seeing, hearing, and wrestling with demons; and that he had performed a ritual that involved rubbing “oils” on their children and the walls of their house. She reported that he was abusing the drugs he had been prescribed for chronic pain, had talked about dismembering his former wife, had intimated he would do the same to her if she ever disrespected him, and had threatened to kill her with succinylcholine, a paralytic agent used during surgery and intubation.

Oooo … sounds awful, doesn’t it?

On the strength of such claims, Joanie Morgan obtained a temporary domestic violence protection injunction, an involuntary psychiatric evaluation order under the Florida Mental Health Act (a.k.a. the Baker Act), and a temporary “risk protection order” under the red flag law, which authorizes the suspension of a person’s Second Amendment rights when he is deemed a threat to himself or others. All three were ex parte orders, meaning they were issued without giving Kevin Morgan a chance to rebut the allegations against him.

But when it was time for a judge to decide whether the initial gun confiscation order, which was limited to 14 days, should be extended for a year, Morgan got a hearing, and the lurid picture painted by his wife disintegrated. By the end of the hearing, in an extraordinary turn of events unlike anything you are likely to see in a courtroom drama, the lawyer representing the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, which was seeking the final order, conceded that he had not met the law’s evidentiary standard, and the judge agreed.

But why?

In the affidavit supporting her petition, Montgomery said she responded to a complaint from Joanie Morgan alleging that her husband had violated the temporary domestic violence protection injunction by returning to the house in Citrus Springs they used to share and retrieving clothing, medications, “several firearms,” and his Ford Mustang. Montgomery paraphrased the claims Joanie Morgan had made in her petitions for the injunction and the Baker Act examination: that “the respondent has had a decline in mental stability over the last four months” and “has displayed irratic [sic] behaviors to include making threats to dismember a former paramour and threats to kill his entire family while yielding [sic] a vial containing a paralytic agent.” She added that “the respondent has purchased several firearms and ammunition during this time period.”

He purchased several firearms.  Horrible man, but let’s continue to see just how horrible he really is.

At this point, Montgomery later testified, she had done no investigation beyond talking to Joanie Morgan and reading her petitions. Montgomery said she subsequently discovered there was no basis for the claim that Kevin Morgan had violated the injunction by visiting the house. “I determined that it wasn’t him that had gone to the house,” she said. “It was actually a pool maintenance worker that had been by the house.” Furthermore, “the firearms had been transferred prior to his risk protection order” in response to the domestic violence injunction, meaning there were no guns for Morgan to retrieve from the house.

Montgomery did read the Baker Act petition that led to Morgan’s court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, but she did not mention the outcome of that evaluation. On September 13, 2018, police handcuffed Morgan and took him to The Centers, a mental health facility in Ocala, where he spent the night. The next day, a psychiatrist determined that he did not meet the law’s criteria for involuntary treatment. A discharge form dated September 14, 2018, described Morgan as “alert and oriented” and “calm and cooperative.” It explained that “Kevin was evaluated by the psychiatrist and it was determined that Kevin does not present as a danger to himself or others.”

Joanie Morgan’s testimony was tearful, highly emotional, scattered, and frequently vague. She reiterated her earlier allegations and added a few more. But when Blackstone asked whether she had any evidence to corroborate what she claimed her husband had said and done, she admitted that she did not.

There were no witnesses to confirm his alleged threats and no photographs of oil on the walls, of the hypodermic needles he allegedly had stashed away to inject the succinylcholine, or of the food, gold, weapons, and ammunition he allegedly had accumulated in preparation for the end times. Nor had police ever visited the house to confirm any of those details. Blackstone also noted that, despite Joanie Morgan’s portrait of her husband as dangerously deranged, she was planning to build a new house with him on property they had purchased together in April 2018, and she had left her children overnight with him that August, in the midst of his supposed breakdown, to attend a conference in Tampa.

Joanie Morgan’s mother, Susan Harper-Clements, tried to back up her daughter’s portrayal of Kevin Morgan as dangerous, but the evidence she offered fell notably short. For example, she mentioned “conversations” after the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. “Kevin had told me that the NRA…was all into this gun thing and that you couldn’t even buy the bullets you wanted, because people were stockpiling,” she said. “And he said, ‘When they’re all through with this, you won’t be able to buy guns and ammunition.'” On cross-examination, Blackstone noted that such comments hardly proved homicidal intent. “He has never threatened anyone in your presence, has he?” he asked. “No,” Harper-Clements replied.

Kevin Morgan’s demeanor at the hearing was as Montgomery and the staff at The Centers had described it: calm, polite, and cooperative. He denied seeing demons, making threats, or obsessing about the apocalypse. He denied that he had recently been stockpiling guns, saying he had acquired his collection of roughly 40 rifles and handguns over the course of more than two decades. The only guns he had acquired recently, he said, were three black-powder pistols he had bought the previous spring and summer—antique replicas ill-suited for the end times.

What about the mostly empty vial of succinylcholine that his wife had presented to sheriff’s deputies as evidence of Morgan’s deadly designs? Morgan recalled that his wife, a nurse who had worked at two local hospitals, had once accidentally brought home just such a vial, saying she had put it in her lab coat pocket after participating in the treatment of a patient who had suffered a cardiac arrest. Morgan, who also has a nursing degree, had managed the emergency room at one of those hospitals, but he left that job in January 2015 because of a disability caused by spinal stenosis. After that, he no longer had access to drugs such as succinylcholine. Given the expiration date on the vial that his wife gave to police, Morgan said, it was clear he could not have been the person who had obtained it.

Okay, there’s much more at the link but I’ve heard enough, and congratulations to Jacob for doing such an outstanding job of reporting this.  Go read the rest of it here.

Let me tell you what happened in this case.  She got together with her mom, who clearly doesn’t like him very much, after the wife had an argument with him of some sort.  She was in too deep to back out, so they concocted this ridiculous set of tales.

So he was embarrassed, had his God-given rights violated, and had his belongings confiscated, all without even a hint of real investigative work by the police.

So goes red flag laws in America, the best thing since sliced bread according to nearly every politician on the planet.


Comments

  1. On March 6, 2020 at 8:29 am, Drake said:

    “black-powder pistols he had bought the previous spring and summer—antique replicas ill-suited for the end times.”

    At some point you might have to make your own gun powder.

  2. On March 6, 2020 at 8:35 am, Ned2 said:

    If she doesn’t like guns in any way at all, dump her.

  3. On March 6, 2020 at 11:50 am, Wes said:

    Do not sugarcoat this. This is what your betters think of as “due process.”

  4. On March 6, 2020 at 6:57 pm, PeanutButter said:

    The deeper personal lesson here is 1) don’t marry crazy women who have equally psychotic mothers, and 2) learn how to cook for yourself.

    Both are easy to achieve, if you put your rational male mind to it.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Gun Control and was published March 5th, 2020 by Herschel Smith.

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