Copeland v. Vance, No. 17-474 (2d Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The district court rejected Plaintiffs’ claim that New York’s ban on gravity knives was void for vagueness under the Due Process Clause as applied to “[k]nives that are designed to resist opening from their folded and closed position,” or common folding knives. New York law defines a gravity knife as a knife that can be opened to a locked position with a one‐handed flick of the wrist; Plaintiffs argued that the wrist‐flick test is so indeterminate that ordinary people cannot reliably identify legal knives. The Second Circuit affirmed. Because plaintiffs’ claim would, if successful, effectively preclude all enforcement of the statute, and because plaintiffs sought to prove their claim chiefly with hypothetical examples of unfair prosecutions that are divorced from their individual facts and circumstances, the court deemed it a facial challenge. Plaintiffs were required to show that the gravity knife law is invalid in all applications, including as it was enforced against them in three prior proceedings. They did not meet their burden under this strict standard.