Kuck v. Danaher
Delay In Ruling On Gun Permit Did Not Violate Due Process
- U.S. District Court
- U.S. District Court
- Bryant, J.
Delays of up to 14 to 16 months to process appeals may be insufficient to establish constitutional due-process violations. Plaintiff James Goldberg's gun permit was revoked in June 2007, after he wore his firearm to a restaurant, the restaurant manager called 911, and Goldberg was charged with breach of the peace. A gun permit hearing was scheduled for May 2009. The Department of Public Safety reinstated Goldberg's gun permit in September 2008, prior to the hearing. Goldberg sued, alleging he was denied due process, because of the overly long delay between the loss of his license and the scheduled hearing. Plaintiff M. Peter Kuck also sued, alleging he was denied due process, because he was required to wait 18 months for a hearing on a gun permit. The defendants objected that significant numbers of citizens sought gun permits after the Cheshire home invasion. The decisions to deny and to revoke the plaintiffs' gun permits were not arbitrary or unreasonable. The Department of Public Services, which uses police officers to review permit applications, renewals and revocations, could have found that Goldberg posed a risk of danger, if entrusted with a gun after his arrest. When ruling whether a delay is so burdensome as to be unconstitutional, courts may consider the amount of difficulty in reaching a decision, the amount of discretion, the amount of time required to process similar claims, and the amount of supporting documentation required. State auditors reported that there were delays of 14 to 16 months, and the court found that this amount of delay was not unreasonable. Delays of three years have been held constitutional in the Medicare, Social Security and employment benefit fields. The court granted summary judgment to the defendants on the plaintiffs' claims that delays violated their due-process rights. Even if the delays did violate due process, defendant Christopher Adams, chairman of the Board of Permit Examiners, was entitled to qualified immunity. It was objectively reasonable for Adams to believe his conduct did not violate due-process rights, since the board met more frequently than required by law and diligently attempted to reduce delays.