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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Calif. High Court to Hear Felon Body Armor Case

(CN) - The California Supreme Court agreed to review a decision last year overturning a law barring convicted felons from wearing body armor. "This is a clear victory for police officers everywhere," California Attorney General Edmund Brown Jr. said.

"Allowing criminals and gang members to arm themselves with body armor makes no sense, and I'm confident the Supreme Court will reverse this wrong-headed decision," Brown said, referring to the 2nd District Court of Appeals' decision last December.

The appeals court struck down the James Guelff Body Armor Act of 1998 as too vague. In doing so, the panel reversed the conviction of Ethan Saleem, who had worn a bulletproof vest despite his previous conviction for voluntary manslaughter.

The appeals court said the law's technical definition of body armor "failed to provide fair notice that his body vest was illegal."

"[O]nly an expert would know if any particular protective body vest was proscribed by [the statute]," Justice Joan Dempsey Klein had written.

Brown appealed to the state high court, arguing that the lower court's decision "failed to follow the test for determining whether a statute is vague; contradicted the Legislature's intent in enacting a body armor statute; and needlessly abrogated the entire body armor statute."

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