Sheriff Improperly Suspended Man’s Concealed Handgun License Out of Alcoholism Suspicion
The Henry County sheriff was ordered to return the concealed handgun license of a man the sheriff deemed a “chronic alcoholic,” after the Third District Court of Appeals ruled it was improperly suspended.
The court ruled Sept. 2 that Sheriff Michael Bodenbender wrongly relied on a section of state law that allows a sheriff to deny a concealed handgun license (CHL) to someone “in danger of becoming a drug dependent person or a chronic alcoholic” and failed to provide a procedure that would have allowed Casey Vanorder to appeal the suspension.
Vanorder of Fulton County was issued the permit by Bodenbender on March 2011. According to the court, in January 2013, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office received a call for assistance at Vanorder’s residence that was related to alcohol consumption and he was sent to a local hospital. Vanorder later said he checked into a rehabilitation facility and successfully completed a program.
Two days after the incident, Bodenbender issued a “Notice of Conceal Carry License Suspension” indicating the sheriff had received information that Vanorder was in violation of one of the three conditions that would lead to a suspension: arrest or charge with a disqualifying criminal violation; being subject to a court-ordered protection order; or experiencing issues with mental competency. The court said the sheriff did not specify the reason or state when the information came from.
Vanorder surrendered his CHL but requested its return asserting that no charges were filed or pending against him, he was not subject to a protection order and had not received any adjudication of a mental defect. The Henry County prosecuting attorney responded on behalf of the sheriff saying Bodenbender believed Vanorder “appears to be a chronic alcoholic, which would place him under a disability to even possess firearms, let alone have a concealed handgun permit.”
Vanorder replied that the law did not give the sheriff the right to indefinitely suspend his license or unilaterally declare him a chronic alcoholic without a right to a hearing or appeal. When the sheriff refused to return the CHL, Vanorder filed a writ of mandamus to the appeals court.
In its opinion, the appeals court noted that Bodenbender failed to cite any provision of the law that authorized him to indefinitely suspend the CHL if he believed the permit holder was a “chronic alcoholic.” The sheriff presented to the court an Attorney General’s Opinion indicating the law did not require a sheriff to issue a CHL to someone believed to be a chronic alcoholic.
The court stated that opinion related to issuing a permit, which Vanorder received from Bodenbender in 2011, and that belief of chronic alcoholism is not a trigger in the state law to revoke or suspend a CHL. “As indicated above, the General Assembly set forth specific triggering events that permit a county sheriff to suspend or revoke a CHL and included a degree of due process by requiring proper notice, a limited right to contest [R.C. 2923.128(B)(2)] and the circumstances and timing for when the CHL suspension must terminate.”
The order to return the license was issued by Judges John R. Willamowski, Richard M. Rogers and Stephen R. Shaw.
State ex. rel. Vanorder v. Bodenbender, 2014-Ohio-3575
Civil Appeal From: Henry County
Judgment Appealed From Is: Reversed
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: September 2, 2014
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