Williams v. Barr

Decision Date01 April 2019
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION No. 17-2641
Citation379 F.Supp.3d 360
Parties Edward A. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff, v. William P. BARR, Attorney General of the United States, Thomas E. Brandon, Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Christopher A. Wray, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and United States of America, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Adam J. Kraut, Joshua Prince, Prince Law Offices PC, Bechtelsville, PA, for Plaintiff.

Gregory B. David, Margaret L. Hutchinson, Anthony D. Scicchitano, U.S. Attorney's Office, Philadelphia, PA, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

ROBERT F. KELLY, Sr., District Judge

Federal law generally prohibits the possession of firearms by individuals who have been convicted of a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). There is an exception from this prohibition for individuals who have been convicted of a state law misdemeanor that is punishable by a term of imprisonment of two years or fewer, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20)(B), or those whose conviction has been expunged, set aside, or for which the individual has been pardoned, id. § 921(a)(20).

In 2005, Plaintiff Edward A. Williams ("Williams") was convicted in Pennsylvania of driving under the influence ("DUI") at the highest rate of intoxication with a prior offense, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to five years. He brings this action against Defendants William P. Barr (Attorney General of the United States), Thomas E. Brandon (Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), Christopher A. Wray (Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation), and the United States of America (collectively, the "Government"), contending that § 922(g)(1) is unconstitutional as applied to him.1 Presently before the Court are the parties' Motions for Summary Judgment, along with numerous responses and replies to the respective motions. For the reasons that follow, Williams' Motion for Summary Judgment is denied, and the Government's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

In April 2000, Williams was in State College, Pennsylvania, where he was pulled over, arrested, and charged with DUI based on his blood alcohol content ("BAC") being over .10%.2 (Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("Pl.'s SUMF") in Supp. Mot. Summ. J. ¶¶ 1, 3; Gov't's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("Gov't's SUMF") in Supp. Mot. Summ. J. ¶¶ 2-3.) Williams entered into Pennsylvania's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition ("ARD") program and was sentenced to twelve months of probation, required alcohol and driver's safety classes, surrender of his driver's license, and payment of court costs. (Pl.'s SUMF ¶ 4; Gov't's SUMF ¶ 4.) Acceptance into the ARD program may be construed statutorily as a conviction for purposes of computing sentences on subsequent DUI convictions.3 See 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3806(a)(1).

In November 2001, Williams was arrested in Philadelphia for DUI. (Gov't's SUMF ¶ 5.) The charges were dismissed for unknown reasons. (Id. ¶ 8.)

On September 7, 2004, Williams was once again pulled over in Philadelphia for DUI. (Id. ¶ 9; Pl.'s SUMF ¶ 7.) He was arrested, charged, and subsequently found guilty at trial in 2005 of DUI at the highest rate of intoxication in violation of 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3802(c). (Gov't's SUMF ¶ 15; Pl.'s SUMF ¶¶ 7-8.) Although Williams was arrested at approximately 2:00 a.m., a test conducted at 3:20 a.m. indicated his BAC to be .223%. (See Gov't's SUMF ¶ 15; see also Gov't's Mem. Law Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. C at MCP-00039.) He was sentenced on June 15, 2006 to ninety days to two years in prison; mandatory attendance at Alcohol Highway Safety School; a $ 1,500 fine, $ 180 in court costs, and a surcharge of $ 100; license suspension for eighteen months; and imposition of an ignition interlock. (See Gov't's Mem. Law Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. C at MCP-000016, 000019.) The judge allowed Williams to serve his sentence on passive house arrest until electronic monitoring was available due to Williams' medical condition. (See Gov't's Mem. Law Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. C at MCP-000019.) Because Williams' conviction was under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3802(c) and he had a prior offense, it was considered a first-degree misdemeanor. See 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3803(b)(4). First-degree misdemeanors in Pennsylvania carry a maximum sentence of up to five years of imprisonment. See 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 106(b)(6). Accordingly, federal law disqualified him (and continues to do so) from possessing a firearm under § 922(g)(1).

Although Williams knew his license to carry a firearm had been revoked due to his 2005 DUI conviction, he continued to own approximately twenty firearms until 2014, including semi-automatic guns, revolvers, and shotguns. (Gov't's SUMF ¶¶ 19-21.) Further, between 1994 and 2010, he worked as a sales manager, firearms instructor, and range safety officer at a gun store and range called "Colosimo's."4 (Id. ¶ 22.) During this period, some of which included his federal firearm and ammunition prohibition, Williams physically handled firearms and ammunition every day as part of his job responsibilities. (Id. ¶¶ 24-25.) As part of his employment, Williams also had the responsibility for ensuring that those who wished to purchase firearms at Colosimo's could do so under federal and state law. (Id. ¶ 27.) Additionally, he was responsible for understanding the paperwork that was needed to complete those purchases, such as the Pennsylvania state firearms application. (Id. ¶ 28.)

Nevertheless, Williams in 2007 submitted an application to purchase a Glock-23. (Id. ¶ 31.) In paragraph thirty-two of the Pennsylvania State Police Application/Record of Sale, Williams checked the "no" box when asked, "Are you charged with, or have you ever been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year? This is the maximum sentence that you ‘could have received,’ not the actual sentence you did receive." (Gov't's SUMF ¶ 31, Ex. A ("Williams Dep."), Ex. 7.) Williams successfully completed the purchase of the firearm based on his representations in the application. (Id. ¶ 35.)

In December 2014, Williams attempted to obtain a license to carry firearms out of the desire to protect his family and himself in the home. (Pl.'s SUMF ¶ 14.) He was denied and subsequently submitted a challenge to the Pennsylvania State Police in January 2015. (Gov't's SUMF ¶ 39.) In his challenge form, Williams checked the "yes" boxes when asked whether he had ever been arrested in Pennsylvania and, if so, whether the arrest resulted in a conviction. (Williams Dep., Ex. 6 at 2.) He wrote in the form, however, that his conviction was an ungraded misdemeanor. (Id. )

Williams has worked as a construction manager for the past twenty-five years. (Pl.'s SUMF ¶ 11.) He has managed numerous projects, including the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the "SEPTA Railworks Project," the Commodore Barry Bridge, and the Interstate 95 and New Jersey Transportation maintenance facilities. (Id. ¶ 12.) His job duties include the preparation of day-to-day monitoring of various construction projects in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware; attending project meetings on a monthly basis; and assisting contractors with cost control, project management, scheduling, and "claims/time impact analysis as needed." (Id. ¶ 13.)

Williams filed suit in this Court on June 1, 2017, contending that § 922(g)(1) is unconstitutional as applied to him pursuant to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's decision in Binderup v. Att'y Gen. U.S. of Am. , 836 F.3d 336 (3d Cir. 2016) (en banc). On September 14, 2017, the Government filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. On October 13, 2017, Williams filed a motion for summary judgment. In a series of Orders dated December 1, 2017, the Court denied the Government's motion to dismiss and denied Williams' motion for summary judgment as premature. After a period of discovery, the instant Motions for Summary Judgment followed.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) states that summary judgment is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The Court asks "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether ... one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The moving party has the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). "A fact is material if it could affect the outcome of the suit after applying the substantive law. Further, a dispute over a material fact must be ‘genuine,’ i.e., the evidence must be such ‘that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party.’ " Compton v. Nat'l League of Prof'l Baseball Clubs , 995 F.Supp. 554, 561 n.14 (E.D. Pa. 1998) (quoting Liberty Lobby , 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505 ).

Summary judgment must be granted "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex , 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548. Once the moving party has produced evidence in support of summary judgment, the non-moving party must go beyond the allegations set forth in its pleadings and counter with evidence that presents "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." See Big Apple BMW, Inc....

To continue reading

Request your trial
8 cases
  • United States v. Bonner
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • 22 Febrero 2021
    ...decision in Robinson, that carjacking committed while brandishing a firearm is a crime of violence under Section 924(c). Smith, 379 F. Supp. 3d at 360 (citing Robinson, 844 F.3d at 143). Robinson rejected the categorical approach for cases in which the predicate offense and the Section 924(......
  • United States v. Bonner
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • 22 Febrero 2021
  • United States v. Scott
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • 22 Febrero 2021
  • United States v. Scott
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • 22 Febrero 2021
    ...decision in Robinson, that carjacking committed while brandishing a firearm is a crime of violence under Section 924(c). Smith, 379 F. Supp. 3d at 360 (citing Robinson, 844 F.3d at 143). Robinson rejected the categorical approach for cases in which the predicate offense and the Section 924(......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT