Chris Christie Does the Right Thing

Brian Aitken’s sentence has been commuted by Governor Christie. He’ll be able to spend Christmas with his family. I believe this means the convictions stand, but those can be challenged on appeal.

UPDATE: From Evan Nappen:

Today is a great day for Brian Aitken, his family and for gun owners across the nation. This is the first time in the history of our country that someone serving a prison sentence for a gun possession offense has been granted clemency by a governor. Thank you Governor Christie for having the courage and wisdom to do so.

For those arguing that Christie wimped out for not giving a full pardon, keep in mind that he wasn’t asked for one. Accepting a pardon requires you to first admit guilt for what was done. For Brian to get his named cleared, he needs to appeal the conviction. Because the conviction stands his appeal survives. A pardon would moot it.

21 thoughts on “Chris Christie Does the Right Thing”

  1. So….while I want to “jump for joy” that he is released, there really shouldn’t have been anything short of a full pardon on this case.

    The “conviction of a crime is not nullified” in the case of commutation. He is therefore still technically a felon, is he not?

  2. Everything I’ve seen has said that Mr. Aitken and his family were seeking a commutation, not a pardon.

    Limited jumping – but he’ll be home for Christmas. In the end, he didn’t sign up to be a figurehead for the freedom movement. If he wants to expunge his conviction, he’ll pretty much have to appeal, but he may not bother I suppose.

  3. There’s obviously more to fix with this case, but can you seriously take no joy at all in the fact that the man will be home with his family for the holidays? A son will have his father home for Christmas. Do you immediately have to jump to the negative?

    A pardon would be nice, and there’s certainly time to do that or get the conviction overturned. But at least an innocent man doesn’t have to wait on that behind bars.

    EDIT: Obviously, this is in response to the first comment, not Ian’s. His point stands. Everything I saw from the family indicated they wanted to focus on getting Aitken out of jail first.

  4. Sorry, I wasn’t clear. This is, by all accounts, what Brian wanted – for him I have joy; and whatever he wants to do after leaving prison a free man is his to decide.

  5. Dangit! I was all set with my fiendish plan to use large quantities of high explosives to detach NJ (along with Philly while I’m at it) from the mainland and let them become their own communist Nanny State out in the Atlantic. I may have to reconsider now that Chris Christie has demonstrated some potentially redeeming qualities about NJ politicians.

    On a more serious note, I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Chris Christie for doing the (mostly) right thing in this case and my warmest holiday wishes for the reunited Aitken family.

  6. It’s all proof that NJ’s gun laws suck and the way they prosecute them is psychotically hopolophibc … but while it sucks that Mr. Aitken is forever an ex felon unless something further happens (pardon from Chris Christie if he gets elected President ;-) this is still something to feel good about.

    I guarantee you that’s how Aitken feels … and even though his gun owning days are over, hopefully there’s enough publicity about this that he can get a decent job instead of a night time stocking job at Wal Mart.

    If they had any heart, the anti-gun group leaders would have felt bad about this to begin with. I think this makes them look bad to the regular populace as well, and when they make their impassioned “but what about the children” cries … where were they for Mr. Aitken’s children?

  7. I’m glad he’s out of prison, but very disappointed that he was not granted a full pardon. I hope Christie has Aitken on a “to do” list for a full pardon as he exits office.

  8. In NJ right now (Haddon Township near Camden and across from Philly).

    The comments in the NJ papers online I’ve read are surprising in how anti-gun many are (Aiken is called an Aryan Nations gun smuggler?).

    I guess coming from Alaska I tend to view anti-gunners as weird lonely outliers not a significant part of the population.

  9. Cowardly and spineless. Governor Christie knows full well that Mr. Aitken was sandbagged. That the good Governor didn’t see fit to issue a full and unequivocal pardon is living testament that the political culture in NJ is not fit to govern. While I’m exceptionally glad that Mr. Aitken is now a free man, free from the clutches of a monsterous state, he is less than a full citizen, and under the circumstances, that’s about as unamerican as it gets. Governor Christie should grow a pair and render true and complete justice to Mr. Aitken. Nothing less will suffice.

  10. It’s only cowardly if Brian asked for an expungement and didn’t get it. If all he asked for was a commutation, that’s between Brian and the Governor.

  11. For Brian’s sake, it is better that his sentence be commuted and the conviction tossed out on appeal – from Burdick v. US, accepting a pardon is an “admission of guilt” according to the Supreme Court. As he did nothing wrong, to accept a pardon would not be right.

  12. The persecution of Brian Aitken represents the true face of gun control. Gun control isn’t about crime control, it’s about stamping out the “gun culture”.

  13. Now that Brian Aitken’s legal travesty has ended in a positive fashion, it is my hope that all of the publicity from it would motivate at least one legislator in New Jersey to soon introduce a bill to repeal or reform some of the gun laws in New Jersey. The laws which were passed in New Jersey on the basis of faulty reasoning, hysteria, or mere speculation (hollow point bullet ban, “assault weapon” ban, “smart gun” mandate before such guns exist) might be a good place to start.

  14. To Bitter, yes, I take joy in the fact that he is out of prison.

    No, I didn’t know that he and his family were not seeking a pardon (thank you Sebastian for clearing that up). I did not know that seeking a pardon was an admission of guilt (see, the internet teaches you things!).

    However (and this is more for the sake of argument), he was *convicted* of a felony. Essentially in the eyes of the court he most certainly is guilty; it matters little whether or not he admits it.

  15. Merry Christmas Brian!

    I pray that 2011 is peaceful for you and your family!

  16. Colin – I say break off Philly and give it to Jersey. In return, Morris, Sussex, Warren, and maybe Hunterdon counties would be very glad to join PA. Lots of shooters and maybe the most conservative Rep in Congress in Scott Garrett.

  17. @ Bram: That’s fine. I have to take my diabolical scheme back to the drawing board anyways.

    I just hope for some good judicial decisions to clear up the morass of NJ gun laws, as well as a national concealed carry reciprocity act to let me bring my gun when I travel to NJ, MD and NY among others. It’s what I asked Santa for this year :)

  18. Essentially in the eyes of the court he most certainly is guilty; it matters little whether or not he admits it.

    It does when he tries to appeal the conviction. If he accepts a pardon, he cannot appeal the conviction because he has admitted guilt. Additionally, IIRC a pardon does not automatically (or necessarily) restore one’s gun rights – there is a whole series of court filings on both the state and federal level that he would have to go through, none of which is actually guaranteed to restore his rights.

    Getting the conviction (and hopefully the law itself) overturned on appeal does guarantee that his rights will be restored – and if the courts do uphold the conviction, he still has the option to petition the Governor for a pardon and restoration of his rights at that point.

  19. Jake,

    Beauty. Thanks for the education. I had always assumed that getting a pardon would be the way to go and had not considered that aspect of the case.

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