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Allegheny County judge defends stay in NRA suit

Bob Bauder
| Thursday, April 9, 2015, 10:36 p.m.

An Allegheny County judge defended her position in postponing a National Rifle Association lawsuit that challenges Pittsburgh's gun control regulations.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Judith L.A. Friedman, in an opinion issued Wednesday, wrote that it would have been a waste of “judicial resources and taxpayer money” to allow the NRA lawsuit to move forward.

“We properly granted a stay in the interest of judicial economy,” Friedman wrote.

The NRA in January sued Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Lancaster after a state law took effect in January permitting advocacy groups to challenge the legality of gun ordinances municipalities pass.

Pittsburgh and the other cities appealed in Commonwealth Court, challenging the constitutionality of the statute known as Act 192. The city then asked Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas to postpone the NRA lawsuit until Commonwealth Court rules in the appeal.

Friedman granted the stay in March. A judge in Lancaster County earlier this year denied Lancaster's motion to stay its lawsuit.

The NRA notified Friedman last week that it intended to appeal her decision, claiming she “applied no discernible legal standard” and took no testimony.

The NRA said Friedman was called into court hours before the hearing, admitted to not having read its argument and abused her discretion “by not properly familiarizing herself with even the minimum elements of the matter before her.”

Friedman wrote that she was serving as a judge in motions court, in which litigants “walk-in” court motions instead of scheduling them. It left her no time to review the case in advance.

The judge wrote that she gave NRA attorneys an opportunity to make arguments and offer case details in motions court, but they didn't do it. Decisions about stays are based on case facts, Friedman wrote, and rarely require extensive briefing.

“In this case, all the relevant facts were of record and were not disputed,” Friedman wrote. “A later reading of the brief did not reveal anything that changes the usual approach to a motion for a stay.”

The NRA intends to appeal the case to Commonwealth Court, according to Jonathan S. Goldstein, one of the NRA attorneys.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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