Rosenberg Trial Date Set

Fantasy author Joel Rosenberg reports he will stand trial August 8 on charges related to his bringing a loaded gun into Minneapolis City Hall last November. The trial date was set during his latest hearing on May 2.

Rosenberg is accused of possessing a dangerous weapon in a courthouse, a felony, and contempt of court, a misdemeanor.  This happened when Rosenberg and his wife went for an appointment with the Minneapolis Police Department’s Public Information Officer. Rosenberg has a permit to carry his weapon, however, he is said to have violated a court order that prohibits bringing weapons into City Hall, which houses courtrooms and associated function rooms.

At Rosenberg’s prior hearing, March 18, the court requested briefs on the issue. The gist of the County’s argument [PDF file]is:

The Minneapolis City Hall sits comfortably within the reasonable definition of a courthouse complex (a building in which established courts are held…)

The Chief Judge of the Fourth Judicial District has authority to promulgate a rule or order prohibiting the possession of dangerous weapons within a court facility, such as the Minneapolis City Hall.

Rosenberg’s attorney, David Gross, in his brief [ document] disputed that City Hall is legally a courthouse, partly by contrasting how the court’s order is posted in City Hall and in Hennepin County’s main court facility:

What is noticeably lacking on or in the Minneapolis City Hall is just such signage. Hennepin County knows exactly what it claims to be a “courthouse” (as that language is used in the sign) or what is a courthouse complex, because it has gone to the trouble of notifying citizens of its claimed applicability of the law to those buildings, perhaps even out of respect for the citizens’ rights under the MCPPA and the requirement of knowledge on the part of the citizen who wishes to conform his or her conduct to the law, as discussed, above. Until it charged Joel Rosenberg, it didn’t even make such a claim concerning the Minneapolis City all, first floor, or otherwise. Surely to make such a claim, now, without notice, after the fact, is to mislead the citizen, to attempt to ensnare him with something about which he had no knowledge.

Joel Rosenberg Arraigned

Minneapolis writer Joel Rosenberg, charged by Minneapolis police with a weapons violation, had his arraignment hearing on January 7.  Rosenberg’s blog reports:

The only thing we can say publicly is that Joel, along with his attorney, David Gross, appeared in court, as required, and that an “omnibus” hearing is scheduled for March 18th; it’s the next scheduled court hearing on this matter.

Under Minnesota law, an arraignment hearing is where the court ensures a defendant understands his rights and what he is charged with.

The next appearance, called an omnibus hearing, is where a defendant may challenge probable cause and any evidence obtained in violation of his constitutional rights.

After that the case is set for a pre-trial conference, and if a plea agreement has not been reached between the prosecution and defense, a trial date is set.

Rosenberg Arrested on Weapons Charge

Fantasy author Joel Rosenberg was arrested December 8 for bringing a loaded gun into Minneapolis City Hall a month ago.

He is charged with possessing a dangerous weapon in a courthouse, a felony, and contempt of court, a misdemeanor, for his actions on November 5 – events he recorded in a video available on YouTube.

Rosenberg and his wife appeared for a pre-arranged meeting with Sgt. Bill Palmer, the Public Information Officer for the Minneapolis Police Department. Rosenberg’s video of the encounter with Palmer, a subsequent video mocking Palmer, and a letter to Palmer that Rosenberg posted to one of his websites, are described in a story on the local Fox affiliate’s website:  

“You can’t have the gun in the building period,” Palmer said on a YouTube video recorded by Rosenberg. “If you want to make a point, I can arrest you.”

After a couple of minutes, Rosenberg agreed to leave, and after removing the bullets Palmer gave him his gun back.

“Please do not reload it until you are outside the building,” Palmer told him.

Rosenberg later poked fun at Palmer in another video that shows him pulling a half-dozen guns and a knife out of his jeans, while wearing a t-shirt that reads, “I am not armed, please don’t hurt me.”

He even posted an open letter to Palmer on his website, which said, “When you stupidly lunged at me to grab my knife and gun, you didn’t watch my hands. One of them was on my backup gun, the other was within an inch of my backup knife.”

Rosenberg disputes that City Hall is part of the courthouse. The charges say it houses a conciliation court on the third floor. A sign in the hallway connecting Minneapolis City Hall with the county Government Center states that weapons are prohibited by district court order.

Rosenberg is the author of Everything You Need to Know About Legally Carrying a Gun in Minnesota and instructs others about the state’s permit to carry law according to his Minnesota Carry Permit Training website.

County records at the time of writing show he is still in sheriff’s custody.

Additional details are available in stories on the local CBS affiliate website (Police: Man Brings Handgun, Knife Into Mpls. City Hall) and in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Man charged with bringing loaded gun to City Hall).

[Thanks to Steven H Silver for the story.]