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Man Arrested with Gun in Connecticut Theater Calls Charges 'Baseless'

Video: Arrested attorney Sung-Ho Hwang and police both held press conferences on Aug. 8, after he allegedly brought a concealed pistol into a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."

On Tuesday, Aug. 7, New Haven attorney Sung-Ho Hwang entered the Criterion - Bow Tie Cinema in New Haven with

Today, Hwang, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, held a press conference at his Audobon Street business, the Law Offices of Sung-Ho Hwang, LLC, during which he explained the circumstances that led him to bring a weapon into the movie theater. Hwang also discussed his 2nd amendment right to bear arms.   

New Haven Police Chief Dean M. Esserman and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. held a separate press conference on Church Street, in which they praised the actions of New Haven Police, Yale Police, and Criterion - Bow Tie Cinemas.

Hwang allegedly did not comply with officers' demands in the theater, hence the interfering charges.

This comes less than three weeks after  

View the above video for more information.

Below is a statement from Sung-Ho Hwang:

'I would like to take this opportunity the to explain what had happened. I have had a valid state carry permit for many years. I normally do not carry, but I live in downtown new haven and the movie was getting out at 1am, so I felt that I should protect myself since I was alone.

I have a special conceal holster that goes under my pants and the shirt covers the holster. There is no posting at Criterion at [sic] states that weapons are not permitted. As far as the law is concerned, I have a right to carry there.

I understand that we are in a state of heightened security since the incident at Colorado a couple of months ago. I really feel for the victims and I pray for their family members.

I don’t think that the patrons did any thing wrong. If they did suspect that someone had a weapon I would expect them to call the police. If I were in their situation I would have done the same thing.

I would also like to thank the uniformed police who acted very well under a tough situation. They were very professional and understanding once they discovered that I had a valid state carry permit."

I was cooperative and followed all the directions of the police. I think that the Second amendment is crucially important to protect. When baseless breach of peace and interfering charges are brought against people that have a right to carry, it really threatens our constitution [sic] right to bear arms.'

Editor's Note: Ryan Sartor is the editor of Milford Patch, where this article and video were originally published.

J. Sosallter August 12, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I am curious if there's a possibility that the charges might include anything that is a felony. Pending charges could be dropped, or new charges brought, based on investigation. I suppose time will tell.
Adam August 13, 2012 at 04:30 PM
J - If we assume that he is acquitted of all charges brought against him, on what basis would the State pursue disciplinary action? Remember, he was NOT acting in his capacity as a lawyer, e.g. addressing a court or tribunal, representing a client, custodian of client confidences, interfacing with an adversary. Separately, if acquitted, consider the political consequences of the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee deciding to bring a complaint against a lawyer whose clear intent was to establish whether the City of New Haven was respecting a constitutional right. Whether the intent is only to punish him for disobeying a police officer is beside the point since it will clearly be overshadowed by the bigger, more passionate, issue of self-defense and the right to bear arms. I didn't say that talking to his lawyer was an excuse. It may, however, be a mitigating factor that should be afforded weight in the decision to prosecute.
J. Sosallter August 13, 2012 at 05:05 PM
The applicable standards are in the RPC, which is of course irrelevant to the standard applicable for successfully proving a crime. The State doesn't pursue disciplinary action, and sanctions and disciplinary actions are possible (e.g. temporary suspension of license to practice). I'm sure you're familiar with Rule 8.4 among others that might (only might) apply. At this point, everything is pure speculation because underlying facts are absent. Passionate issue of self-defense? That's a bizarre rationale. How have you concluded clear intent? That's not a common basis to excuse behavior - did he carry a gun, and call the police on himself? Did have someone else call - all to prove that the police authority acted appropriately? (Seem they did, but again, this a whacky premise.) That requires so many suppositions as to be pure conjecture, not to mention that such deliberate action may include false emergency, and may have endangered innocent people which might give rise to other criminal charges or even civil liabilities (remember the innocent other theater-goers). The main point is that we don't know enough of the facts. There is not likely going to be any mitigating factor for not obeying the commands of a police office - from what know of this circumstance (it's pretty far fetched in any context because the deference shown to judgment of police in securing a situation is pretty high.)
Adam August 13, 2012 at 05:54 PM
J.- Commentary on 8.4: "Although a lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to law practice. Offenses involving violence, dishonesty, breach of trust, or serious interference with the administration of justice are in that category." On August 11th, you stated that Mr. Hwank will "likely [face] a professional sanction." In your most recent statement above, you appear to be backpedaling (e.g. "underlying facts are absent"). I agree we don't know the facts; that was point in my original post. But then you state that RPC 8.4 may apply. Is it your belief that Mr. Hwang MAY have committed a "serious interference with the administration of justice"? If so, do you believe that all instances of passive resistance (e.g. refusing to obey an officer when he demands you empty your pockets) is a "serious interference with the administration of justice"?
J. Sosallter August 13, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Are we arguing a case before a tribunal or offering comments on a community website - don't answer that, it was rhetorical. Suffice it to say that any number of additional facts are plausible based on the limited information available, and many of such plausible additional facts would serve to support criminal charges and/or professional disciplinary action, while few would tend to exculpate this person in entirety.

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