By Art Gallagher
Most of the mainstream news reported from Governor Chris Christie’s press conference yesterday has to do with the progress being made on the “tool kit” of municipal government reforms that will enable local officials to reduce the cost of government and live within the 2% property tax increase cap that the State government passed last summer.
Thanks to the Star Ledger’s Paul Mulshine for reporting that Christie also acknowledged that he is considering a pardon of Brian Aitken, the young New Jersey man serving seven years in prison for transporting guns he purchased legally and in a method that he had been instructed to transport them by the New Jersey State Police.
The news reports of of Aitken’s plight make a compelling case that a gross injustice has been committed. As a media skeptic and critic, I wonder what facts are missing from the stories. If the stories are reasonably accurate there is no question that Aitken should be released, his record cleared and he should go on to live the productive life he was apparently leading prior to his arrest.
I trust Christie to review Aitken’s case quickly and to make a just determination.
Posted: December 10th, 2010 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Brian Aitkin, Chris Christie | Tags: Brian Aitkin, Chris Christie | 1 Comment »
Brian Aitkin, photo from Free Brian Aitkin facebook page
By Art Gallagher
Brain Aitken was sentenced to seven years in prison for transporting unloaded and disassembled guns in the trunk of his car. The arresting officer suggested that Aitken store the guns in his father’s safe, but they wouldn’t fit, so he was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to seven years in state prison.
According to the reports brought to my attention by MMM readers, here, here and here, Aitken had purchased the firearms legally while residing in Colorado. He had sought and followed guidance from the New Jersey State Police on how to legally transport the guns during his move back to New Jersey.
Aitken turned down pleas bargain offers from the Burlington County prosecutors office because he believed he had carefully followed the law.
The judge presiding over Aitken’s case, James Morely, declined to instruct the jury about exemptions to the concealed carry law for transporting guns during a move between residences. Aitken’s attorney raised the issue during closing arguments but not during the evidentiary phase of the trail. The jury requested the exemption information multiple times during deliberations. Morely declined to provide the information.
Morely did not issue Aitken’s sentence. He was removed from the bench after the verdict was delivered and before the sentencing because Governor Chris Christie declined to reappoint him, reportedly because of his judgement in a case involving a Moorestown NJ police officer having sex with cows. Judge Michael J. Haas issued Aitken’s sentence.
Evan Nappen of Eatontown is Aitken’s attorney. Nappen’s summary of the facts of the case can be found here.
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll has written Governor Christie asking for an immediate pardon or commutation of Aitken’s sentence. Carroll’s letter can be found here.
Reports are that Governor Christie is reviewing the pardon/commutation request. The media campaign that Aitken’s family is waging is so compelling that the questions, “how could this happen?” and “what facts are missing from this story?” must be addressed. Christie’s office should conduct a thorough and expeditious review.
For more information, see the Free Brain Aitken facebook page and BrianDAitken.com.
Posted: December 4th, 2010 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Brian Aitkin | Tags: Brian Aitkin, Chris Christie, Evan Nappen, Michael Patrick Carroll | 4 Comments »