It really got started in 2011 at a sentencing hearing, but the saga has been going on for years and involves multiple legal matters. Hobson McKown was sentenced for a 2008 incident, where he purportedly entered Judge Jonathan Grine’s office with a loaded gun.
Technically according to the written legislation on the books, and according to him, courthouses in Pennsylvania are required to have a secure area in the front of the courthouse where private citizens and officers of the law can check their guns. Pennsylvania is an open carry state, and I’m not talking about beer. I’m talking about openly carrying guns, so as long as you also carry the up to date required permits.
Bryan Nichols inflamed the legal community in 2005 when he was in court and removed a gun from a deputy and shot and killed the Judge. Since this event there has been significant increased attention to weapons in court. The laws on the books has not kept up with individual courthouse policy. Essentially, Hobson’s story is long and convulated, with lots of twisting and complex legal appeals and legal matters.
A current member of the District Attorneys office, who I can’t and won’t name, gave an opinion that he/she did not think that Hobson was dangerous. After talking, at length with McKown, you might be stunned to find out that I don’t think he is a threat either. McKown is a constitutionalist of the most traditional type. It’s never been about the guns, (though McKown is huge second amendment proponent), its been about rights and freedoms.
When I first read about McKown I had little understanding, and I fear that he is deeply misconstrued by many people. The news depictions of him have not done him any justice, the coverage has been slanted and inaccurate. The truth is, that despite having no Juris Doctorate, Hobson McKown is somewhat of a legal sevant. He is something you would want in one of those strategic, dry, highly technical lawyers, the kind of personality you find in a patent lawyer or a tax lawyer. Hobson reads the law closely, interprets it exactly as it’s written (with no wiggling or spin), and he has a deep sense of moral indignation if he finds courts are not following the law.
In 2011, McKown was convicted via jury trial of criminal trespassing after entering a court, with the proper gun licenses, and “scaring” Judge Grine. A second incident occurred in August 2016, where McKown was again charged with defiant criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct. The second incident mirrored the events of the first incident.
This might be hard to stomach given the modern day gun hysteria; however, technically and according to the current laws on the books, McKown is right. The courts do have the right to limit bearing arms in the the court house facility, but if you interpret the present laws on the books exactly how they are written, then the courts also have a legal responsibility to provided “gun check points” or “gun lockers.” The reason behind these laws precedes to an era before Brian Nichols, and while some might conclude the laws need “updated”, it still does not negate the fact that we can loosely interpret the law without going through the legal procedure to change the laws, or the legal procedure to amend the former laws.
That’s where it gets fishy, not on the part of Hobson, but more on the part of the courts. As any American knows, the court system is only one part of three government bodies: Executive, Legislative, and of course, Judicial. The problem I see is an underlying and subtle and slowly growing trend of the Judicial branch of government to over step it’s bounds of legal authority within the three branches of government. Let me give you an example of this: Megan’s Law. Megan’s law was implemented to prevent sex offenders (who have habitual and predictable history of known recidivism) from preying on society after they are released. Megan’s law was poorly drafted by our legislative branch of government, and therefore since it was not technically “tight”, it became abused. In Centre County for instance, Stacy Parks Miller began making parents who violated child custody agreements (with no history of sex abuse, just in violation of a domestic Judge’s court order) register and face the penalties under Megan’s Law. It was a loose and poor interpretation of the law, and had devestating effects on parents. Her actions were later deemed unconstitutional under the law through an appeals process in a single case.
The problem was two fold: 1. When the legislature does not write technically “tight” laws; and 2. When the courts take advantage of the laws on the books, and then manipulate the loose laws to their benefit.
The logic is something like this: Say I wrote a law that said, “no transvestites in public bathrooms, and if a transvestite is caught in a public bathroom, he should go to jail for 6 months to a year.” You have to 1. Clearly define what a transvestite is, even down to the specific technical sexual characteristics of the physique; and 2. Define what “public bathroom” is, i.e. public government agencies/libraries/public facilities, or does that also apply to say…. Private businesses? The legislative branch needs to define DISTINCTLY the terms and words written in the laws, any loose laws and all of a sudden: “Lesbians are transvestites and can’t use bathrooms”, or “the little girl had short hair like a boy and can’t use public bathrooms.” This is a metaphor, but I’m telling you as a close watcher of the legal system, this is the growing trend. The judicial branch is overstepping and overreaching, increasingly and alarmingly more frequently and severely, then what was intended for them to do when American forefathers drafted the constitution. There power is NOT to invent laws or manipulate laws, it’s to enforce them. And therein lies the inherent and disturbing problem.
If legislation is not technically tight, then lawyers take advantage. And furthermore, EVEN WHEN legislation is technically tight, the judicial branch is still manipulating and eroding the written law, exceeding their power by way of loosely interpreting even the most technical laws.
Gun laws in Pennsylvania are very technically tight. There is no written law on the books that says “no gun in the the courthouse,” perhaps there should be – but that’s not the point! The point is that if courts start just inventing their own interpretations of the law without any consequence or oversight, then the rights of the People slowly get eroded.
When I first started following McKown, I did not necessarily have my present understanding of him. I read about what I saw in the papers. He is anonymous on facebook, so it took a long time for me to even see an actual photo of him. McKown is surprising compared to the image that the papers rendered with their words. You picture a hill billy nut with second amendment, NRA delusional pro gun rights thinking. Such is not the case. First of all Hobson is pretty young. Second, he doesn’t sound like a redneck, he actually sounds like someone who knows the law and is pretty passionate about following it to the letter.
Despite his checkered criminal run ins with the law, McKown ran twice for magisterial district judge. He is politically passionate, but not for the attention. He prefers, rather, that people follow the law.
“I would be a candidate of no affiliation…which I believe is what we want from our judges. I have attended and investigated the (magisterial district judge) certification course in Harrisburg. I have taken a trip to jail to know what 90 days really is to a life,” he said.
Currently all of McKown’s cases are under appeal with higher courts, despite him having served his time. The reason they are under appeal, is that the higher courts are realizing, and taking some responsibility, that in Hobson’s case a very loose interpretation of the laws occurred by local courts. As in, it might be nuts to enter a courthouse with a gun and expect no criminal recourse, but the courts do not actually have that written legislative authority to prosecute.
The legislation is clear in Pennsylvania, either you provide a locker area where citizens who are legally allowed to open carry check their guns, or you allow guns within the publicly owned tax payer facility.
Let me give you a really good example of this hypocrisy: It is well known the Kelly Gillette Walker comes armed with a hot pink gun into court. She is not in law enforcement, she is technically a judicial officer of the law. There is no law on the books allowing Kelly Gillette Walker to be “special” and come into court armed, yet Kelly Gillette Walker (God bless that highly functioning autistic troll) sets bail for people violating weapons charges. It’s a Judge who is enforcing the laws, but thinks her own self is above them. This is what I mean by erosion of rights by loose judicial interpretation of the legislation written on the books, and this is why our legislature needs to write laws as tightly as possible, because each and every opportunity a local court will interpret the laws, manipulate them and apply their own meanings to the laws. This is not conducive to free American Society, this is more like Sharia Law: Stone a woman if you suspect she has an affair outside of wedlock, even if there is no physical proof. The male accuser acts as judge and jury, there is no law. Women are murdered because of the lack of laws, and lack of enforcement of the laws. That’s what makes America free and Syria a deadly place to live.
Laws should be tightly written.
But the 2011 incident was not McKown’s only run in the law.
McKown also reportedly attempted to challenge court security in Warren County, the prosecution said, claiming he had been denied access to the building and asking about the metal detectors. -Centre Daily Times
If you talk to Hobson about this incident, or any other incident of him involving the criminal justice system, Hobson’s answer is pretty damn clear. “The law says they are supposed to have lockers, WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE NOT FOLLOWING THE LAW?”
Like I said, maybe we need to amend or update the present laws on the books given the recent gun hysteria, but it is not the role of the courts to make up their own laws: It’s the role of the legislative branch. And the more we allow courts to “make up” laws or “bend” laws or “loosely” interpret laws, the more the courts (by history) seem to overstep their own authority, and infringe on the constitutional and legislated rights of the People.
And this is McKown’s point. It’s not about wanting to shoot up a courtroom, it’s about requiring our courts to follow the laws on the books without manipulating them or making up their own. The righteous indignation is less about the second amendment, and more about requiring our courts to follow and enforce the laws EXACTLY as written by the legislative branch.
District attorney Stacy Parks Miller claimed McKown remains a threat to himself, law enforcement officers and the general public, saying she was concerned a member of the public will “get caught in the crossfire of one of his constitutional rants.”
“Constitutional rants?” It isn’t a rant if the court is interpreting the law at their whimsy to fit their needs, political ambition or want to “impress” the public by being “tough on crime.” The laws are written by the legislative branch. The judicial branch can “interpret” them to some extent, but when these interpretations become wild….. Then its cause for alarm. It’s the most important duty of every American to protect the constitution, its the spine of our country. If our courts are not following the laws, or if they are interpreting the laws to fit their own benefits, then it’s the DUTY of an American to question it.
I want to also specifically note that McKown has never taken a violent action. Carrying a gun with a permit is legal in Pennsylvania. The courts, under the present legislation, are either required to have locker room check points or allow guns in court.
Why is it that Pennsylvania Courts can liberally interpret and enforce the laws, but somehow don’t think the laws apply to them?
McKown’s attorney argued that no charges have been filed from any alleged incident in Warren County, noting that since the conviction was on a misdemeanor trespassing charge, a sentence of probation running concurrent with McKown’s 11-and-a-half-to-23-and-a-half-month probation revocation sentence would be appropriate.
His attorney also said McKown was three days shy of completing his previous probation for the weapons charge when the trespassing incident occurred. McKown declined to comment during the sentencing.
Centre County Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Ruest, who presided over both the jury trial and the sentencing, initially sentenced McKown to 60 days to 12 months consecutive to his current sentence, but vacated that sentence when she realized it would be carried out in state prison. Ruest said she did not agree with a state sentence for a level three misdemeanor.
McKown isn’t the dangerous Las Vegas shooter, he isn’t the “Stephen Paddock” of State College. He is at the core, a very constitutionalist. He doesn’t believe in loosely interpreting laws, and expresses deep concern. It isn’t about the second amendment right or any hill billy trying to prove a point with and advocate gun rights, it’s about FOLLOWING THE LAWS, as they are written. It’s not a “constitutional rant”, it’s someone – an American citizen – holding the courts accountable. He is mathematical and technical in his interpretation of the laws, and deeply disturbed by others who bend, manipulate, distort, or otherwise invent their own half baked interpretations of the law in order to bolster themselves. In a pigeon holed fashion, he is bearing witness to the same trend I am seeing.
And it’s not just about the gun laws, it’s about ALL THE LAWS. It’s a slow and steady and historically alarming erosion of People’s rights and the authority of the legislative body. There is no oversight. If there is one change I can positively endorse? THE COURTS NEED LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT, VERY BADLY. THERE NEEDS TO BE A SYSTEM OF ACCOUNTABILITY. Look at the incarceration statistics, our first world nation is approaching the dark ages. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
We don’t have courts to write or invent laws, we have a judicial body to enforce the laws. I would argue that it’s the slow abuse of power by egomaniacal fame hungry, press seeking social climbing attorneys, who campaign on ideas like “tough on crime” that is the cause of the complete and utter disarray and infectivity of the current criminal justice system. And it’s something we need to watch closely
Hobson McKown currently has pending criminal complaints against former District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller and several Judges for their illegal prosecution and decision making in his case. He remains politically active and stands his ground: The courts need to follow the law as it is written, and loose interpretation equals abuse and a slow erosion on the rights of American People.