Citrus County, Florida – In the first case of Florida’s then brand new red flag law in 2018, Kevin Morgan was accused by his ex-wife Joan of a litany of frightening actions. The Florida woman said he was depressed, suicidal, obsessed with the “apocalypse,” and was ‘stockpiling’ guns and ammunition, food, and gold in anticipation of the end. She said he saw demons. She applied for and received a red flag order, a domestic violence restraining order, and got him involuntarily committed under the Florida Baker Act. Only the whole thing was a lie.
Florida woman tall tales
“Morgan’s estranged wife, Joanie, claimed he was depressed, suicidal, and obsessed with the apocalypse, which he thought was imminent. She said he was stockpiling food, gold, guns, and ammunition in anticipation of the end times; that he talked about seeing, hearing, and wrestling with demons; and that he had performed a ritual that involved rubbing “oils” on their children and the walls of their house. She reported that he was abusing the drugs he had been prescribed for chronic pain, had talked about dismembering his former wife, had intimated he would do the same to her if she ever disrespected him, and had threatened to kill her with succinylcholine, a paralytic agent used during surgery and intubation.
On the strength of such claims, Joanie Morgan obtained a temporary domestic violence protection injunction, an involuntary psychiatric evaluation order under the Florida Mental Health Act (a.k.a. the Baker Act), and a temporary “risk protection order” under the red flag law, which authorizes the suspension of a person’s Second Amendment rights when he is deemed a threat to himself or others. All three were ex parte orders, meaning they were issued without giving Kevin Morgan a chance to rebut the allegations against him.
But when it was time for a judge to decide whether the initial gun confiscation order, which was limited to 14 days, should be extended for a year, Morgan got a hearing, and the lurid picture painted by his wife disintegrated. By the end of the hearing, in an extraordinary turn of events unlike anything you are likely to see in a courtroom drama, the lawyer representing the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, which was seeking the final order, conceded that he had not met the law’s evidentiary standard, and the judge agreed.”
The police did not check out her claims. They didn’t investigate the absolute craziness of her statements. Consequently, Mr. Morgan temporarily lost his 2a rights, his reputation damaged, and his future placed in jeopardy…all because of a grudge by the Florida woman ex-wife.
The defense attorney included facts that even the prosecutor agreed were not evidence of a deranged would-be killer. Morgan was calm, polite and cooperative. His ex was emotional and freaked out. The involuntary psychiatric evaluation was termed not needed when the doctor noted that his demeanor was nothing like the petition. His gun collection of roughly 40 weapons contained several antique ones, certainly not fit for someone to take on the “apocalypse.”
If Mr. Morgan had not hired an attorney, the outcome could have been different. Most states do not provide an attorney for the accused in red flag cases. Kevin had an excellent attorney, who was able to ferret out the truth. The whole episode from divorce to red flag and domestic violence orders emptied his life savings.
“You have to go in and prove that you’re not guilty…the Sheriff’s office jumped into a civil action without completing a proper investigation. I don’t think the average person understands just how dangerous these laws are. Hopefully, if my story can get out, folks will see how easily [red flag laws] can be used against someone for revenge or to get an upper hand in [a custody dispute]. I want people to know how these laws can be used improperly, in the hope that some reforms will take place. We need protection for falsely accused individuals and stiff punishment for those who abuse the system.” Kevin Morgan
And that is the issue with red flag laws: you are guilty until proven innocent. Backwards from the way the US judicial system is supposed to work.
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