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Brooks v. Maine State Police

Superior Court of Maine, York

May 7, 2014

TAOS BROOKS, Claimant,
v.
MAINE STATE POLICE, A BUREAU OF DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, STATE OF MAINE, Respondent

80C ORDER

John O'Neil, Jr., Justice

Petitioner, Taos Brooks, has filed this 80C appeal challenging the denial of his application for a concealed handgun permit.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When the Court reviews a decision of a State agency, its review " is limited to determining whether the [agency] correctly applied the law and whether its fact findings are supported by competent evidence." McPherson Timberlands v. Unemployment Ins. Comm'n, 1998 ME 177, ¶ 6, 714 A.2d 818. This standard of review " is identical to the 'clear error' standard used by the Law Court." Gulick v. Bd. of Envtl. Prot., 452 A.2d 1202, 1207-08 (Me. 1982). The Court must not disturb the decision of the agency " unless the rules or regulations plainly compel a contrary result." Rangeley Crossroads Coal v. Land Use Reg. Comm'n, 2008 ME 115, ¶ 10, 955 A.2d 223; see also Gerber Dental Ctr. v. Maine Unemployment Ins. Comm'n, 531 A.2d 1262, 1263 (Me. 1987). The Court must examine the entire record in order to determine whether the agency could fairly and reasonably find the facts as it did. See 5 M.R.S.A. § 11007(4)(C)(5); Clarke v. Maine Unemployment Ins. Comm'n, 491 A.2d 549, 552 (Me. 1985).

The burden of proof is on the petitioner to prove that " no competent evidence supports the [agency's] decision and that the record compels a contrary conclusion." Bischoff v. Maine State Ret. Sys., 661 A.2d 167, 170 (Me. 1995) (citation omitted); see also Seven Islands Land Co. v. Maine Land Use Regulatory Comm'n, 540 A.2d 475, 479 (Me. 1982). Additionally, the Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the agency simply because the evidence could give rise to more than one result. See Dodd v. Sec'y of State, 526 A.2d 583, 584 (Me. 1987); Gulick, 452 A.2d at 1209.

DISCUSSION

There is no absolute right to bear firearms under the Maine Constitution. See State v. Brown, 571 A.2d 816, 818 (Me. 1990). The State is permitted to reasonably regulate the possession of firearms. Id. The Law Court has held that it is a reasonable regulation for the State to require permits for concealed firearms. Hilly v. City of Portland, 582 A.2d 1213, 1215 (Me. 1990) (" Maine's concealed firearms statute is a reasonable response to the justifiable public safety concern engendered by the carrying of concealed firearms. The permit requirements pass constitutional muster as an acceptable regulation of the individual's right to keep and bear arms.")

The procedure for obtaining a concealed handguns permit in Maine is governed by 25 M.R.S. § 2003 (2013). Section 2003 contains a host of requirements that an individual must meet in order to be issued a concealed weapons permit. One of the requirements is that the applicant " has demonstrated good moral character" . 25 M.R.S. § 2003(1). To determine whether an applicant has demonstrated good moral character, 25 M.R.S. § 2003(4) provides, in pertinent part, that the issuing authority shall make a written decision

based solely upon information recorded by governmental entities within five years of receipt of the application, including, but not limited to, the following matters:
A. Information of record relative to incidents of abuse by the applicant of family or household members, provided pursuant to Title 19-A, section 4012, subsection 1;
B. Information of record relative to 3 or more convictions of the applicant for crimes punishable by less than one year imprisonment or one or more adjudications of the applicant for juvenile offenses involving conduct that, if committed by an adult, is punishable by less than one year imprisonment;
C. Information of record indicating that the applicant has engaged in reckless or negligent conduct; or
D. Information of record indicating that the applicant has been convicted of or adjudicated as having committed a violation of Title 17-A, chapter 45 or Title 22, section 2383, or adjudicated as having committed a juvenile crime that is a violation of Title 22, section 2383 or a juvenile crime that would be defined as a criminal violation under Title 17-A, chapter 45 if committed by an adult.

25 M.R.S. ยง 2003(4)(emphasis added). As the Law Court indicated in Hider, a police chief is not limited in his consideration to the four factors ...


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