Federal Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis has granted Knife Rights' motion to amend its federal civil rights lawsuit against New York City and District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., adding as plaintiffs New York knife retailer Native Leather and Knife Rights Foundation. Native Leather was one of the retailers originally targeted by Vance on charges of selling “illegal gravity knives and switchblades” which in reality are legal one-hand opening and assisted-opening folding knives. An example of a one-hand opener is the Timberline SOC pictured above.
Native Leather, Ltd., is one of the New York retailers Vance accused of selling illegal knives. Like other retailers who were threatened with prosecution (Home Depot and Ace Hardware among them), Native Leather surrendered much of its knife inventory, made substantial monetary payments, and stopped selling a number of common pocketknives (mischaracterized by the City as “gravity knives” and “switchblades”) to avoid the DA's wrath. Because of the vagueness and inconsistency in the way the City and DA interpret state law, Native Leather still has no definite means of determining whether the DA's office will once again allege that its knives are illegal in the future.
The lawsuit challenges New York City's and District Attorney Vance's attempt to mischaracterize the most widely-owned pocketknives in America as contraband. The case seeks a judicial determination that the New York State laws regarding “switchblades” and “gravity knives” are unconstitutionally vague as applied to these common pocketknives with a bias towards closure, including one-hand opening and assisted-opening folding knives.
Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter said, “Adding Native Leather as a plaintiff allows us to provide the court with an example of a retailer victimized by DA Vance's misinterpretation and misapplication of state law to knife retailers.”
Judge Ellis' opinion and order can be downloaded at: http://www.KnifeRights.org/58_Opinion_and_Order.pdf
“District Attorney Vance's politically motivated assault on, and continued threat to Native Leather, a small, law-abiding retailer simply trying to make a living in New York City, is unconscionable ” said Ritter. “I applaud Native Leather for joining our lawsuit and showing the courage of its convictions in standing up to DA Vance's bullying tactics.
“One-hand opening pocketknives are legal tools, used and carried every day by millions of law-abiding professionals, tradesmen and sportsmen for work and recreation. Shame on D.A. Vance for demonizing common tools and turning honest citizens into criminals for purely political ends.”
Also added as a plaintiff is Knife Rights Foundation, Inc., which has provided valuable support for the lawsuit.
The original plaintiffs remain in the case: Knife Rights, Inc. and two private citizens (John Copeland, an internationally acclaimed artist, and Pedro Perez, an artist and fine art dealer, both New York City residents). The defendants remaining are the New York County DA and the City of New York itself. Knife Rights is represented by attorney David D. Jensen, Esq. of New York.
The Memorandum of Law in Support of the Amended Complaint and a red-lined copy of the Amended Complaint can be downloaded at: http://www.KnifeRights.org/KRvNYamendedcomplaint.pdf
For more on Knife Rights click on www.KnifeRights.org.
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