The Champion

July 2009 , Page 53 

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Seeking Nullification in the War Zone

By Jeffrey Buckels

Read more Informal Opinion columns.

In the early 1990s, I defended a client charged in New Mexico federal court with felon in possession of a firearm. The late Judge Santiago E. “Jimmy” Campos presided.
The client was an elderly African American gentleman with a noticeable string of robbery-type convictions in his background. Some pretty old, but not all. Still, he had been living a completely harmless life for years — doing odd jobs as an auto mechanic — in a very tough area of Albuquerque known, not altogether theatrically, as the War Zone.

The client kept an old, crappy, and long since inoperable .22 rifle next to the door of his tiny apartment. He wanted it known around the neighborhood that he had a rifle. It was truly “an old piece of junk,” a phrase I repeated from time to time in the course of the trial, and really looked it, too. I cannot remember how the ATF became involved in wasting federal resources on this ridiculously technical violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Anyway, there wasn’t much to negotiate, and t

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