Judge: ‘You have a choice — your husband or your guns’ By: Lee Williams

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Florida judge issues unconstitutional order to wife of accused felon.

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(Photo illustration from licensed Shutterstock account.)

by The Charlotte Sun in 2014. “I ran to the back of my yard and jumped over a fence and went over there and got her out.”

Over the years, his addiction changed Marok. Prosecutors seemingly took his addiction into account when they drafted his plea agreement.

They offered a no-jail plea deal, in which Marok would be sentenced to 10 years of probation, but the term would be reduced to five years if he successfully completed a treatment program, attended AA meetings regularly and made restitution to his neighbors.

Lisa Marok accompanied her husband to the hearing last week to accept the deal, which was a mere formality, or so she thought.

“When the judge told Ralph he couldn’t have a single gun in the house, whatsoever, I kind of made a face. I assumed the judge was looking at me, because he called me up to the stand and swore me in — he swore me in,” Lisa Marok said. “The judge told me I couldn’t ever own a gun again — ever in my life. He said you’ve got a choice — your husband or your guns. In a joking manner, I said ‘can I have a minute?’ Of course, I was going to pick my husband. He said we cannot have guns in the house – any guns whatsoever. He said I couldn’t carry one for protection anymore. He took away all of my Second Amendment rights.”

All of the Maroks’ firearms remain in the custody of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

“I’m scared to go pick them up,” Lisa Marok said. “I don’t want my husband to go to prison. I think this was wrong. I am a law-abiding citizen.”

Judge’s explanation

Circuit Judge Shannon H. McFee. (Photo courtesy Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit.)

Circuit Judge Shannon H. McFee heard Marok’s case. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed him to the bench in 2019 to fill a vacancy.

Judge McFee was not willing to be interviewed for this story. However, he submitted a written statement through his spokesperson, Sara Miles, public information officer for Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit.

Asked why he told Marok’s wife she had one choice — her husband or her guns, Judge McFee’s response states:

“Mr.  Ralph Marok accepted a plea to the charge of Shooting at or within a Dwelling, 2nd Degree Felony in the State of Florida; additionally, this plea calls for Mr. Marok to be registered as a convicted felon. The Assistant State Attorney clearly announced the plea deal to Mr. Marok that included, ‘no longer being allowed to lawfully possess a firearm or ammunition, or a concealed weapon or the ability to vote, etc.’  These implications were discussed with Mr. Marok and he voluntarily agreed to these terms with his plea, which is a downward departure based upon the plea bargain agreement between counsel. Mr. Marok scores out to 19.5 months prison. Instead, Mr. Marok received at least 5 years State Probation. The court became aware that Mrs. Marok has a concealed weapons permit and may have weapons stored in the home, which would subject Mr. Marok to a Violation of Probation and potentially going to prison. Judge McFee was taking the necessary time to ensure that Ms. Marok understood the terms of the attorney’s negotiated plea and, if she was in objection, then the court would not accept this plea. Mrs. Marok was in agreement with the plea deal and pledged not to have any weapons in the home being shared with Mr. Marok, a convicted felon.”

Reaction

Jacksonville, Florida-based attorney Eric Friday, who specializes in firearms law and Second Amendment rights, said the judge’s order went too far.  

“Mr. Marok’s family has the right to continue to own guns as long as he is not in possession,” Friday said.

Thomas Marok, 36, agrees. He recently bought his mother a gun safe, which has only one key, but the safe remains empty.

“She is still afraid to go get them. She doesn’t want my dad to go to prison. I’m worried if she waits too long, they might get lost or damaged,” he said. “I just want to be there for my dad as much as I can. He’s embarrassed. I’m just upset about how he and my mom were treated.”

Thomas Marok served as a corpsman in the U.S. Navy. He currently works as an anesthesia technician in the Milwaukee area, and is studying to become a physician’s assistant.

“I think the judge was anti-gun,” he said. “My mom told me during sentencing that if it were up to him, my dad would have jail time and all the guns would be locked up.”

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