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Appeals court upholds ruling in Grisham case

Grisham arrest

A screen capture of a video shot by Chris Grisham, son of C.J. Grisham, shows his father’s arrest by Temple Police on March 16, 2013.

The Third Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a ruling against Temple gun rights advocate C.J. Grisham on his misdemeanor conviction that began with him carrying a firearm on a 10-mile hike.

“My attorneys are reviewing the case file and looking into an appeal to the State Supreme Court,” Grisham, the founder of Open Carry Texas, said Thursday.

The National Association for Legal Gun Defense-Self Defense Fund is reviewing the possibility of an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, Larry Keilberg, executive director, said Thursday.

Temple City Attorney Kayla Landeros said, “The city was not a party to the criminal case and therefore has no position on the outcome.”

She said the city strives to educate employees about laws pertaining to firearms.

“The police department continues, consistent with past practice, to provide training to its officers regarding firearm laws,” Landeros said. “After firearm legislation was passed in the 2015 legislative session, city employees were presented with information regarding the new laws to ensure compliance. As with any area of the law, the city monitors changes in the law and works to train its employees appropriately.”

Grisham said he was glad to have some resolution in the case.

“While I’m disappointed with the ruling, I’m excited to finally have my lawfully possessed firearms returned to me after four years,” Grisham said.

Grisham and his legal team filed their initial notice of appeal more than two years ago.

“It never ceases to amaze me how a law-abiding citizen can be minding his own business hiking out in the country near his home and end up charged with a crime the minute a police officer injects himself,” Grisham said.

Grisham and his son, Christopher Grisham Jr., were hiking 10 miles to get credit for a Boy Scout merit badge on March 16, 2013, when a woman called the Temple Police Department’s non-emergency number and said a man and woman were walking, and the man carried a black gun. She said he wasn’t doing anything dangerous with it and wasn’t waving it around.

Temple Police Officer Steve Ermis answered the call. Video of the incident showed he grabbed Grisham’s AR-15 without notice. Ermis then drew his handgun, which he later pointed at the back of Grisham’s head.

Ermis arrested Grisham and charged him with assaulting a police officer. Ermis’ charge was later changed by the county attorney’s office.

Grisham stood trial twice on the misdemeanor charge, which set a Bell County record. The first trial ended in a mistrial.

The charge against Grisham was changed by the county attorney’s office from assaulting a police officer to interfering with a peace officer’s duties, a Class B misdemeanor.

Grisham was convicted Nov. 2, 2014, of interference with a peace officer’s duties.

Actions by retired Harris County Judge Neal Richardson in Bell County Court at Law No. 2 prompted Grisham’s legal team to file the appeal, which languished in the system for more than two years.

The appeal asked the appellate court to find that Richardson made critical mistakes during the trial that caused Grisham to not receive a fair trial. The intent of the appeal was for the lower court’s ruling to be reversed and a new trial granted.

Keilberg called Thursday’s ruling “another example of out-of-control judges not relying on the law.” He said that the only thing Grisham was guilty of was walking on the wrong side of the road, which was stated in the probable cause affidavit.

“Grisham sued the city of Temple including Officer Ermis and Sgt. Thomas Menix in Waco federal court and again experienced a corrupt federal judge, Walter Smith Jr., who is no longer serving as a judge because he was disciplined for being intoxicated and sexually assaulting a court reporter in his chambers,” Keilberg said.

Staff writer Cody Weems contributed to this report.