Attorney Justin Sparks of Fort Worth got the first “not guilty” verdict in the history of a Plano federal court after his successful defense of a gun collector charged with failing to register as a firearms dealer. His client had made over 300 firearms transactions during a two year period and BATFE alleged that he had failed to register as a firearms dealer. Justin Sparks is also a Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney. The picture above shows Mr. Sparks in his office after his client’s firearms were returned. Read the following press release for more information.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: December 4, 2015
First Not Guilty Verdict in Plano Federal Court
A gun collector charged in federal court in Plano with buying and selling firearms without a license was found not guilty by 12-person jury following a four-day trial. It was the first “not guilty” verdict in that court since it was established in 2007.
The indictment alleged that Larry Tom, a local pharmacist, had failed to register as a firearms dealer and was engaged in the business of buying and selling firearms for livelihood and profit. The United States Attorney’s Office presented testimony from agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms showing that Tom had over 300 firearms transactions over a two-year period and seized over 50 firearms from his home.
“The jury only deliberated 75 minutes before returning a “not guilty” verdict for my client,” said the defendant’s attorney, Justin Sparks of the Sparks Law Firm in Fort Worth. He praised the jury’s careful consideration of the evidence.
Through cross examination of the government’s witnesses and presentation of his own witnesses, Sparks was able to convince the jury his client was merely a gun collector whose motive was to improve his collection and was exempt from the requirement to obtain a firearms license.
Craig Gottlieb, an expert in firearms and military antiques and a regular on the hit TV show “Pawn Stars”, testified for the defense. He examined the guns involved in the accusation and testified that Tom was clearly a gun collector and not a gun dealer. He said that Tom’s collection of guns and firearms transactions were exactly what he sees on a daily basis from gun collectors all over the United States.
Sparks also presented the testimony of a local federally-licensed firearms dealer to explain the purpose in obtaining a federal firearms license and how it did not apply in this case.
During final argument, Sparks pointed out that the government’s own exhibit, a sample federal firearms license application, asks: “Do you intend to use your license only to acquire personal firearms? If yes, do not submit application.” He argued that the government’s own license form negated his client’s guilt and that his client did not need to acquire a license.
It was only after the trial had concluded that Sparks learned that there had never been a previous “not guilty” verdict in that courthouse.