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Judge: Sheriff violated man's 1st Amendment rights in denying gun permit

Judge: Sheriff violated man's 1st Amendment rights in denying gun permit

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SIOUX CITY -- After less than a full day of testimony in U.S. District Court, Presiding Judge Mark W. Bennett issued a ruling from the bench this week that found Osceola County Sheriff Douglas Weber's denial of an Ocheyedan, Iowa, man's application for a gun permit constituted First Amendment retaliation, according to court documents.

Bennett's written order in the civil action is to follow.

Paul Dorr and his son Alexander, then 18, filed suit in 2008 after Weber turned down their concealed-weapon permit applications.

Paul Dorr said Friday he believed Weber denied his application because he was working as a paid consultant with the Osceola County Taxpayers Association, which was fighting public safety budgets, including those of the sheriff's and county attorney's offices.

Weber could not reached for comment Friday. His Sioux City attorney, Douglas Phillips, said he would not comment until he had seen the judge's order.

In his 2008 response to the lawsuit, Weber wrote that he was using his discretion as sheriff to determine whether or not the men should get gun permits. Osceola County residents' fear of bullying, harassment and intimidation by Paul Dorr was a legitimate basis for the denial, he wrote.

Hearing minutes in the case filed this week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa do not include a ruling on Alexander Dorr's permit application.

His father said the younger Dorr was and is working part time while taking college classes.

  In addition to testimony from the Dorrs and Weber on Wednesday, Kevin Wolfswinkel of the taxpayers group was called to testify. The defense questioned only Sibley attorney Daniel DeKoter regarding evidence for the permit denials, without any cross-examination, according to the hearing minutes.

The trial had been slated to last two to three days.



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