Trial Transcript: Nick Hentoff's Successful Defense of a 2008 ATF Gun Show FFL Prosecution

This is the transcript of a three-day jury trial held in February 2008. The charges resulted from an ATF undercover investigation into the private sale of firearms at gun shows in Phoenix, Arizona. The investigation ended with a raid on my clients home and the seizure of his personal computer and personal collection of firearms.  Prior to his arrest in this case my client had never been charged with a criminal offense.  

At the close of the State's case, on the third day of trial, the United States District Judge granted my motion for a directed verdict and the case was dismissed.  

The reason we are able to read a transcript of the trial - which is usually only prepared if the defendant is convicted - is because it was ordered by the United States Attorneys Office after the humiliated ATF agents filed an unfounded complaint against the government's lead trial attorney who was forced to try a case that the ATF should never have submitted for charging in the first place.

A highlight of the trial was when one of the undercover ATF agents testified as to the content of his secretly recorded conversations with my client.  The trial judge had denied my motion in limine to exclude my client's criticism of Hillary Rodham Clinton's position on gun control. The government used his statements about Clinton to to establish what they argued was an anti-government bias.  During cross examination, I asked if the agent had voted for Clinton in the recent primary elections.  When he testified that he had not, the jury erupted in laughter (which is not reflected in the transcript).  

This was the second time I have walked out of the ATF's Phoenix, Arizona, headquarters with an armload of seized firearms that they were forced to return to my client.