STU Bykofsky's column
"Anti-Gun Zealots Prey on Wrong Target,"
wholly missed the target itself.
I should know - along with Lawrence Krasner, I assisted in representing the defendants in this trial. His overall argument that Judge Simmons somehow abdicated her duty by acquitting the 12 individuals was flatly wrong. Judge Simmons performed the duty required of her - to preside over a fair trial and deliver an impartial verdict.
Instead of examining the extensive evidence and testimony that was relied on by Judge Simmons in forming her verdict, Mr. Bykofsky based his opinion that the defendants should have been convicted on brief newspaper articles. Had Mr. Bykofsky been at the trial, he'd have realized that there were numerous grounds on which the judge's verdict could rest.
First, he may have noted that there were significant discrepancies between testimony offered by police and that offered by the defendants, or that evidence of the defendants' reputations in their communities for being honest was stipulated by the government.
Similarly, he may have actually understood that my argument that the defendants' conduct was "justified because they were trying to prevent a greater evil" was based on the law (Chapter 18, Section 503 of the state's Crimes Code, titled "Justification Generally") and was not a way for Judge Simmons to avoid doing the "right" or "just" thing.
Finally, Mr. Bykofsky might have seen that these "zealots" had the right target.
Evidence was presented indicating that during the period in which statistics were available, Colosimo's Gun Center was responsible for selling a substantial proportion in Philadelphia of what the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms defines as "crime guns," and was one of a few gun retailers in Philadelphia that sold multiple guns to single buyers, a clear indication of "straw purchases."
The defendants did what they did for one reason - so fewer of our brothers and sisters would die on the streets by guns sold to straw purchasers that end up in the hands of murderers. Assisting in the defense of these individuals was a proud moment in my legal career.
Lloyd Long III, Philadelphia
If Mr. Bykofsky had actually been at the trial, he would have seen what was obvious to Judge Karen Simmons and more than 150 observers who jammed the courtroom (including Inquirer columnist Monica Yant Kinney and other members of the press): The prosecution's case was so full of holes it looked like one of the targets on Mr. Colosimo's firing range.
No self-respecting judge would have ruled in favor of the prosecution.
A few points: Judge Simmons conducted herself with professionalism and impartiality. Witnesses for the prosecution, including, Mr. Colosimo, a store employee and two arresting officers, presented wildly inaccurate and conflicting testimony, including conflicting accounts of the arrests and false claims that the defendants were "lying piled on top of each other blocking the doorway" and "came there to be arrested." Charges against two of us (I was one) were dismissed early in the trial because the arresting officers were unable to identify us.
Finally, testimony by the defendants was so poignant that many, including at least one court employee, were moved to tears. It's too bad Mr. Bykofsky wasn't there. He might have learned something about standing up for the truth.
Sam Caldwell, Media