One of our favorite impostors Richard Strandloff/Duncan has had the charges of Stolen Valor dropped due to a ruling from the District Court in Denver today. Judge Robert E. Blackburn issued a ruling today, dropping/dismissing the charges on the basis that says ''the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional.'' And by 'unconstitutional' he means it violates the First Amendment. He writes:
"The Stolen Valor Act is declared to be facially unconstitutional as a content-based restriction on speech that does not serve a compelling government interest, and consequently that the Act is invalid as violative of the First Amendment,"
This is a surprise ruling on many fronts- while many have attacked the SVA and pushed for its repeal (mostly on grounds it's too broad) appending it to the First Amendment was unexpected. The ruling, Download Strandlof-Decision, which was issued this afternoon, has many up in arms, as it should.
Over at Ace of Spades, you can read some people who while disagreeing with the ruling, attempt to understand how it is it came about. Can't say I agree with them. A bad ruling is a bad ruling.
As this ruling affects only those in the 10th district, it's immediate effect is likely to be limited. But suffice to say that any further actions under Stolen Valor are not coming anytime soon in Colorado.
California has had 1 person convicted under SVA; Houston has one of our faves, Gen McSoulpatch. The Colorado ruling likely will have the effect of sending this to the SCOTUS to get sorted out before long. There is other litigation pending in courts around the country that will take a strong look at SVA.
Some others opinions: Eaglespeak has quite a few legal types square in on it; Comments in CDR Salamander's column speak details; the Farm Team over at TAH get into it; and of course the local rag The Denver Post covers it, and will have more details tomorrow.
UPDATE: MOTHAX over at the Burn Pit has a great explanation of how this went down and what it means.
I have a personal stake in this- I and TSO over at TAH worked diligently to ensure that Duncan/Strandloff actually got prosecuted. We contacted the DA's office numerous times, and TSO had investigative info that should have sealed it, but the DA, at first, wasn't buying. Thru ours and a few others efforts, we were able to help turn the tide in the DA's office. A long story there, but it was worth it- 'til now.
I now believe I can go out, get a lawman's badge, and start telling all the stories of the crooks I've captured and the other law-breakers I've bagged in the course of my non-existent law enforcement career. It would be no different than someone donning a uniform replete with un-earned medals in the hopes of garnering favor, cash, or benefits undeserved. As long as I didn't try to arrest someone, or pull them over, and just stuck to profuse lies, it would be the same thing.
What the judge failed to realize, at least in his printed ruling, was that Duncan/Strandloff did this in order to gain financial benefit for his groups. This wasn't just idle boasting in a bar to pick up dates; it was in order to garner favor, cash donations, and sympathy from the groups he claimed to represent.
We are going to watch the ramifications of this ruling CLOSELY..... There will be updates.