Everything in this article that is not a quote is my understanding. I AM NOT A LAWYER so the odds of me getting something wrong is non-zero.

In Boland v. Bonta: Another District Court Win “UHA” I quoted and wrote.

The Complaint, and every cause of action therein, is barred by the equitable doctrines of estoppel, laches, unclean hands, and/or waiver.
Answer to Amended Complaint at P 16

I should have spent some more time figuring out what this all means.

What this refers to is a distinction between “legal” and “equitable” remedies. A remedy is an action that the court can order that will make the party whole.

Which brings us to:

make one whole

v. to pay or award damages sufficient to put the party who was damaged back into the position he/she would have been in without the fault of another.

When two parties are in court there must be standing, one or more questions, and the ability of the court to order a remedy.

For example, some asshole drives through a Christmas Parade and kills Grandmothers, mothers and children. The state will charge or file a complaint against the asshole. Does the state have standing to file a criminal complaint? Yes.

You do not have standing to file a criminal complaint. If you were to try and take the asshole to court to get him convicted of murder you would fail as you don’t have standing.

In civil court standing is a bit more complex. There are rules for determine if there is harm, if the complaint matches law and other magic stuff.

The question is then asked. The question asked is sometimes the most important part of the case. “Does a de facto ban on modern handguns infringe on the Second Amendment?” vs “Does the state have the power to set standards of safety for dangerous products?” Part of what the lower court does is decide the question.

Finally there is a question of “can the court do anything about it?” There is no way for the court to bring back the people killed by some asshole, but society has agreed that putting the asshole in jail is a good start at a remedy.

On the other hand, if your ex-wife keeps your children from you on the long weekend where you had gotten tickets to a live performance, there is nothing the court can do to provide a remedy. Tell your ex “Don’t do that again?” yes. But the court isn’t going to jail her and there is no way for the court to give you back that time.

The court might decide that your ex must repay the cost of those tickets but expecting anything more is not a fruitful thought exercise.

In the cases regarding anti-gun regulation we are asking for an injunction to stop the infringement. This is “equitable relief”. An example of a non-equitable relief would be a reward of monetary damages.

In this case, the state is saying that there are certain doctrines that preclude an equitable relief.


Estoppel is an equitable doctrine. It has multiple uses, the one most likely meant in this case is a bar to the re-litigation of issues Estoppel – Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute

The state is claiming that the question has been asked and answered in the past so there is no need for the question to be answered yet again. Of course that totally ignores that this time the question is being asked post Bruen

The other potential meanings are a claim or right that contradicts what one has said or done before, or what has been legally established as true. Id. I think the state might be claiming that the plaintiffs made different claims in the past, but I didn’t see what this could be referring to.


This is simple to understand. It is a claim that plaintiffs delayed too long. Because they didn’t assert an equitable right soon enough they can’t now.

Normally the time limit is reset after new guidance is created by a higher court. So if your claim for equitable relief was denied in 2007 because you were not part of the militia, the state can’t claim in 2009 that you waited to long. See Heller — 2008. On the other hand if you waited until 2028 before you attempted to reassert your claim, that might be considered too long and the affirmative defense of the doctrine of laches would apply.

Unclean Hands

This is an affirmative defense as well. The gist being that if the plaintiffs had something to do with what the results currently are that the plaintiffs can not now ask the defendant for relief.

Consider going to small claims court with a complaint that your landlord hadn’t replaced the broken stove at no cost to you. The landlord claims that even though he has service people on staff to fix things like stoves, you attempted to repair the stove yourself and you broke it beyond repair.

Here is the example for Wex:

The clean hands doctrine is an affirmative defense that the defendant may claim. For example, in Holy Family Catholic School v. Boley, the defendant opened an account at a pharmacy for the benefit of the plaintiff so that plaintiff could obtain medication for his work-related injuries. The plaintiff charged items unrelated to these work-related injuries. The defendant closed the account, and the plaintiff sued to keep the account open. The court held that the plaintiff’s abuse of the account necessitated a finding that the plaintiff had “unclean hands” and that requiring the defendant to keep the account open would be against good conscience.
Clean Hands Doctrine – LII

Here, it appears, that the state is arguing that because The People of California keep filing suits to stop the microstamping requirement that it is the plaintiff’s fault that no gun manufacture has created a microstamping firearm.


This is one of those gotchas that get thrown into different legal agreements that people don’t really notice until it is to late.

There might be a clause in some of the paperwork that a person has to file to get a CCW in California which says that the applicant agrees that any CCW firearm the carry will have been or currently is on the roster.

I have not checked to see if this is the actual case, but this is the sort of thing that people sign without full understanding.

A much more common example of this is the poor sucker that agrees to a plea deal for a misdemeanor with no fine or jail time (or time already served) rather than fighting the state as they attempt to slap multiple felonies on him. It is only after the deal is accepted by the court that the sucker finds out that the misdemeanor falls within the list that makes him a prohibited person.


The more you know…

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By awa

One thought on “Words are hard”
  1. AWA, you are doing a wonderful job going through this material and breaking it down for us, and I thank you for doing so.

Only one rule: Don't be a dick.

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