Valley News – Court denies white nationalist: defense, prosecution ready to take case to court
A judge has denied a second attempt by a white nationalist in Bennington, Vermont, to have his gun magazine charges dismissed, bringing the case closer to trial.
Max Misch, 38, is accused of owning two high capacity rifle magazines in 2019 despite a state ban. He asked the Vermont Superior Court to dismiss his double tort charges in October, saying state law limiting magazine size violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The law limits the size of magazines to 15 rounds for handguns and 10 rounds for long guns. Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed it into law in April 2018, two months after an alleged shooting plot was discovered at a school in Fair Haven, Vermont.
Misch has previously argued that the law violates the Vermont Constitution, but the Vermont Supreme Court earlier this year upheld the Superior Court’s denial.
In a written order from the Vermont Superior Court in Bennington last week, Judge Cortland Corsones ruled that the law does not violate the U.S. Constitution. He cited the Supreme Court ruling in Misch’s first attempt at dismissal, which concluded that the objective of the law is “significant, substantial and important” and that there is a “reasonable concordance” between the ban of the magazine and this goal.
Citing the Supreme Court ruling, Corsones wrote that the legislative record shows the magazine law was designed to reduce the number of people who would be killed or injured in a mass shooting in Vermont.
“The purpose of the legislature was to prevent catastrophic damage to the people of Vermont – one of its primary functions as our legislative body,” the Supreme Court justice said. “We conclude that the Legislature acted within its constitutional authority in determining that the limitation on large capacity magazines promotes this objective. ”
If convicted, Misch faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and / or a fine of $ 500 for each charge of illegal magazine possession.
Misch attended a virtual hearing on Monday on the magazine charges and other cases in court.
Misch’s attorney, Public Defender Fred Bragdon, told Corsones he was ready to take the case to court in light of the state’s latest plea offer.
“I can’t get a worse sentence by losing and being respectful of the court,” he said.
The prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Ultan Doyle, said he was also ready for trial.
Misch has a total of nine criminal cases pending in Bennington County, including two counts of aggravated domestic violence in the first degree. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and / or a fine of $ 25,000.
Authorities accuse Misch of suffocating a woman and again injuring her on a broken arm between December 2020 and July 2021. Misch has pleaded not guilty.
At Monday’s hearing, Bragdon said he was ready to try the case. The prosecutor in charge of these charges, Bennington County Assistant District Attorney Alex Burke, held the same position.
The judge decided to prioritize the magazine’s case on the trial list, saying it was the oldest case and had “been very contentious”.
No trial date was discussed at the hearing.
Meanwhile, Misch awaits Corsones’ decision on the state’s request to revoke his bail in the magazine’s case. Otherwise, the attorney general’s office requested that he be placed under house arrest.
The growing number of criminal charges against Misch since 2019, including violation of release conditions, poses a threat to public safety, the attorney general’s office said in a written request in November. Doyle repeated it at the hearing.
Bragdon countered that the request to revoke bail in a “non-violent misdemeanor” case “would appear to be an overrun on the part of the state.”
Addressing his client’s domestic violence charges, Bragdon said Misch had previously been ordered by the court to have no contact with the plaintiff. The lawyer said that Misch and the woman no longer lived in the same apartment. Misch has moved and lives in a shelter.
Misch, an Iraq War veteran, told the court he would move into a new apartment in Bennington next month.
Jim Bastien, a clinician with the US Department of Veterans Affairs at White River Junction, said Misch has been undergoing psychotherapy since 2015. He said Misch had 70% service-related disability for PTSD and combat-related trauma.
Corsones said he would render a decision on the state’s request to revoke the bond or impose house arrest as soon as it can.