Harrison Appointed to ABA Standing Committee on Gun Violence

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July 15  |  Headlines  |   david

I’m honored to have been re-appointed by Robert M. Carlson, President-Elect of the American Bar Association to serve a three-year term on the ABA’s Standing Committee on Gun Violence.  The ABA has been a leading voice in gun violence prevention for 50 years.  Recognizing there is no simple solution, and consistent with a public health approach to address this national crisis, the ABA has adopted and advocated evidence-based policies covering a range of gun violence topics including research, education, prevention, enforcement, and regulation.

Taking Aim at Gun Violence: The Myth and Meaning of the Second Amendment

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February 16  |  Headlines  |   david

If you want to get past the political talking points and learn something about the issue of gun violence and the scope of the Second Amendment, at the bottom of this page is the entire 3 hour 45 minute clip from a program of experts organized by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Gun Violence on which I am honored to sit.  https://www.americanbar.org/groups/committees/gun_violence.html

The Harrison Firm, PC Prevails before Trademark Board

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December 28  |  Headlines  |   david

Roanoke, VA – Roanoke attorney David Harrison has succeeded in cancelling the service mark of Sea Tow Services International, Inc. for performing certain services with a yellow-hulled boat.  Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department, Inc. has three emergency response vessels with yellow hulls.  Sea Tow demanded that the Fire/Rescue Department cease performing certain services with its yellow boats claiming doing so infringed Sea Tow’s federally registered service mark.

The demand of Sea Tow raised concerns not only for the SML Fire/Rescue Department, but also for other fire and rescue departments in Virginia and across the country that also perform similar services with yellow-hulled boats.  Because Sea Tow’s demand had such far-reaching implications, the SML Fire/Rescue Department decided it must consider its legal options and retained the services of The Harrison Firm, PC.

On behalf of the SML Fire/Rescue Department, attorney David Harrison filed a proceeding before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, an administrative board within the United States Patent and Trademark Office, seeking to cancel Sea Tow’s registered mark on three grounds: that Sea Tow’s mark serves the functional purpose of making its boats highly visible (functional marks are not entitled to registration); that Sea Tow’s mark had not acquired the “secondary meaning” needed for registration on the Principal Register; and that overriding public policy does not permit a private company such as Sea Tow to claim for its exclusive use the color yellow so as to limit or restrict government authorized entities in the manner in which they choose to provide for public safety.

The merit of those arguments was never reached because of the repeated and continuing failure of Sea Tow to comply with pre-trial discovery rules and with multiple orders of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board that Sea Tow respond to certain interrogatories and document requests.

Mr. Harrison stated:  “It is quite rare for judgment to be entered as a discovery sanction, but we thought the facts of this case justified it.  The panel of three administrative trademark judges unanimously agreed and ordered the Sea Tow mark cancelled.  We are pleased that now fire and rescue departments throughout the United States that use yellow vessels can provide their public safety duties without concern of infringement litigation by Sea Tow.”

SML Fire/Rescue has provided emergency response services on the 20,600 acre lake since 1975 and now operates a total of eight strategically located fireboats.  It also provides critical support services to land-based departments in Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania Counties for emergencies near the shoreline.

American Bar Association Opposes National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bills

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July 20  |  Headlines  |   david

The American Bar Association opposes HR 38 and S 446 the so-called “concealed carry reciprocity” bills pending in Congress that are being pushed by the NRA. These bills would require all states to allow residents of other states to carry within their borders if those carrying meet the requirements to carry in their state of residence.  As of last year, 11 states had no permit requirements at all and this year NRA-backed bills were introduced in 16 other state legislatures to do away with all permit requirements.

Most federal public safety legislation sets minimum standards which states must follow. HR 38 and S 446 would do the opposite.  They would prohibit states from adopting concealed carry laws that those states think would best provide for public safety within their borders.  No permit requirement would become the national standing.  The NRA hocks this as “constitution carry” even though the Supreme Court has never held there is a constitutional right to carry in public.

Typically, when the ABA takes a position on bills pending in Congress, appropriate letters would be sent by the ABA’s Director of Governmental Affairs. In this case, the ABA considers HR 38 and S 446 to be so detrimental to public safety that the letters it is sending today were signed by the President of the ABA.

Here are the letters:



Ferguson Police Tactic Ruled Unconstitutional

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October 9  |  Headlines  |   david

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri has ruled that the police tactic in Ferguson, Missouri of prohibiting peaceful protestors from standing in one location for more than five seconds is unconstitutional.  #policetacticunconstitutional  bit.ly/1qrFfHl

Business Method Software Patents

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April 2  |  Headlines  |   david

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday, March 31, in Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank International, a case observers had hoped would clarify questions about business method software patents.  The questions from the bench, however, may indicate the court’s ruling will be narrow in scope and not provide the hoped-for broad guidance to lawyers and lower courts.



Federal Appeals Court Overturns Texas Voter Registration Ruling

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October 6  |  Headlines  |   david

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that had enjoined enforcement of certain provisions of the voter registration law in Texas. http://bit.ly/15ajJAx


Gun Rights Advocates Challenge Maryland Firearm Safety Law

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September 30  |  Headlines  |   david

Two lawsuits have been filed by gun store owners and gun rights advocates in US District court for the District of Maryland seeking to block the implementation on Tuesday of Maryland’s Firearms Safety Act of 2013 passed in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings.

Festival 2013

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May 29  |  Headlines  |   david

I am happy to be associated with Roanoke Festival in the Park, Inc. which has brought entertainment and activities to Roanoke over the Memorial Day weekend for more than 40 years. Congratulations on another success.

NRA and Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli Lose on Second Amendment Argument

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March 23  |  Headlines  |   david

In Woollard v. Gallagher, a case decided March 21, 2013, the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond upheld a Maryland law which places restrictions on those who can carry handguns outside the home.  Both the National Rifle Association and the Attorney General of Virginia, among others, filed amicus briefs arguing that the Maryland law violated the Second Amendment.  They lost.

The Maryland law was not an absolute ban on carrying handguns outside the home.  It provided a number of exceptions, but said others not falling within an exception must have a “good and substantial reason” for carrying a gun in order for them to obtain the required permit.  The Maryland State Police was given authority to issue the permits.  The State Police adopted a standard which sets out four categories which they would consider to meet the “good and substantial reason” requirement, the last of which was “for personal protection.”   To determine whether the personal protection requirement was met, the State Police applied an objective standard previously adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals that there must be an “apprehended danger,” something more specific than “a vague threat” or a general fear of “living in a dangerous society.”

 In its analysis, the Fourth Circuit followed its own precedent and applied an “intermediate scrutiny,” not a “strict scrutiny,” standard in determining whether the state regulation restricting guns outside the home placed an impermissible burden on the Second Amendment constitutional right.

 The court held that Maryland’s “good and substantial reason” requirement as applied in this case met second amendment constitutional muster.  Using the intermediate scrutiny standard, the court found Maryland had demonstrated that the statutory “good and substantial reason” requirement is reasonably adapted to Maryland’s significant interest in protecting public safety and preventing crime.