Concealed weapons foes want Supreme Court to delay appeal

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Attorney General Jay Nixon wants the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the case on the state's new concealed weapons law by Dec. 3. But lawyers who successfully challenged the law say they need more time to prepare for the appeal.

"We need more time to prepare a proper and adequate representation of our clients," said Burton Newman of St. Louis. "We cannot meet the timetable that the attorney general and others have proposed because of the amount of resources they have."

Newman and Richard C. Miller of Kansas City are not charging a fee for representing the 10 clients who challenged the concealed weapons law. St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer ruled last week that the law was unconstitutional on one of five points raised by the challengers.

Newman said that when the case is argued before the Supreme Court, the challengers will not only defend the point that Ohmer upheld but also advocate in favor of the four other issues that Ohmer dismissed. Newman said they need time to prepare all those arguments.

One of them involves the state's "Hancock Amendment," the constitutional lid on government spending. The amendment requires the Legislature to pass additional appropriations to finance new activities that are required of local governments. The Legislature did not pass an appropriation for county sheriffs to issue concealed weapons permits, but authorized sheriffs to collect a $100 fee that was supposed to cover the costs.

Nixon, whose office is responsible for defending the state statute, wants the Supreme Court to expedite arguments in the case. Nixon's office filed a proposed schedule that calls for parties to file written arguments and responses with the court through the rest of this month and for the case to be argued before the seven-member court Dec. 3.

"This plan puts the plaintiffs at great disadvantage," Newman said. "We will indicate this schedule is not practical for the court to decide an issue of this significance."

Newman said Nixon had resources at his command that the challengers did not have. He said that in addition to the state attorney general's office, those defending the statute included two large St. Louis law firms that represent the Bulls Eye shooting range and the National Rifle Association.

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