Jury acquits Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers

| October 28, 2016

AW1Ed sends us a link to the Seattle Times which reports that the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge militia members have been acquitted by a jury in Oregon for their antics earlier this year;

The jury found brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five others not guilty of conspiring to impede federal workers from doing their jobs during the 41-day armed takeover that ended Feb. 11 at the refuge, some 300 miles southeast of Portland.

“This is off-the-charts unbelievable,” said Matthew Schindler, an attorney for defendant Kenneth Medenbach. “I had been telling my client you can count on being convicted. You don’t walk into a federal court and win a case like this. It just doesn’t happen.”

I’m not that surprised, actually. It was a jury trial after all, and the Land Management Bureau doesn’t have many supporters in the West.

The 12 jurors, many drawn from outside Portland, found Ammon Bundy, Shawna Cox, David Lee Fry, Jeff Wayne Banta, Kenneth Medenbach and Neil Wampler not guilty on all counts. They found Ryan Bundy not guilty of conspiracy and possession of firearms but could not reach a verdict on a theft charge.

For the U.S. Justice Department, this was a major prosecution in the aftermath of an occupation that sent shock waves reverberating across the West.

I haven’t been paying attention to the trial, but folks who have tell me that it was a stolen valor bonanza. That doesn’t surprise me either. Any event that encourages the wearing of camouflage has that effect on people.

Category: Politics

Comments (51)

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  1. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    The only way I choose to look at this is that it is a wonderful thing. The Federal government, which in 97 out of 100 cases, plea bargains, tried this case–and lost. That’s a winner. The environmentalists–the greenies–wanted the brothers hanged. Instead, they were found not guilty. And to top it all off, some asshole atty got himself tasered and cuffed for his courtroom idiocy.

    • 68W58 says:

      Ace linked to a story that said it was one of the Bundy’s attorneys. Apparently the Feds wanted to hold one of them after the acquittal based on the charges pending in Nevada and the lawyer threw a fit and got tazered.

  2. AW1Ed says:

    Look up “jury nullification.”

  3. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Why? What makes you believe that the Feds made their case beyond a reasonable doubt such that jury nullification was involved here?

    • Hondo says:

      Um, for starters: because unlawfully occupying a Federal workplace and refusing to allow the employees assigned to work there enter the premises by definition interferes with the performance of duty of those employees?

      Even lawyers are allowed to use common sense, 2/17.

      • 2/17 Air Cav says:

        From the Seattle Times: “Primary charge filed against all seven: Conspiracy to prevent, by ‘force, intimidation, and threats,’ employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management from carrying out their duties.

        Other charges filed against some defendants: Theft of government property, use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.”

        I don’t see what you described, Hondo. If the main charge was as reported, an element of that crime could have been weak. I don’t know but my point is neither does anyone else. If the jurors speak, maybe we’ll learn what went on in the jury room.

        • Hondo says:

          Gee, they were only forcibly occupying – through collective and cooperative action – a Federal building, with one or more of their party armed, for a period of approximately 41 days. I also seem to remember reports that they did, via threat of armed violence, refuse employees working there access to the facility.

          Seems to me that voluntarily acting together in concert over a period of 41 days shows the necessary agreement by the parties involved to perform an unlawful act, and that the armed occupation itself would be the required overt act. But that’s just me.

          Regarding theft of government property – well, did they use without permission any supplies they found at compound they unlawfully occupied? Pilfer any property? Did they pay for any phone/internet connectivity they may have used without the government’s permission while there? Did they pay for the utilities used at the compound during that unlawful seizure? All of those acts are theft – and since the government was paying for or already owned all of that, they in fact were stealing government property. (Don’t ask me why the government didn’t cut phone lines and utilities – that’s the first thing I’d have done if I’d been the senior guy on-site for the government.)

          When a jury decides unanimously to ignore plain facts in order to “speak truth to power”, then you get this kind of verdict. In such a case, the rule of law is perverted vice being upheld.

          I have no great love for the BLM. But this was IMO a very clear case of jury nullification.

          • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

            Maybe it is maybe it isn’t, there’s a take on it from a decidedly biased source http://bearingarms.com/bob-o/2016/10/28/clear-jury-instructions-jury-nullification-freed-bundy-7/ that claims the jury instructions as given might have factored well into it.

            Sometimes jury nullification is warranted, and sometimes it isn’t If we are in fact only to be governed by the consent of the government when the government over reaches beyond the consent of the governed such as the BLM taking land and dictating terms, then the unjust actions of the government can refuse to be enforced by the governed as a sign of their lack of consent to continue to be governed in such a manner.

            Sometimes you just have to say, fuck you to the government, an insurance company, some rich corporation that is killing its employees by degree, unjust laws and unjust actions deserve no respect from the people upon whom those laws are being applied.

            I’m not saying that’s the case here, I think Bundy and company have long been avoiding the law and are serious assclowns. But I’m not there in the West, and I’m not a first hand witness to what goes on regularly. If the Dakota Access pipeline horseshit is indicative of how the Feds intend to act in the West, I can see why the consent of the governed might well be withdrawn.

            • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

              Clearly I meant to say we are governed with our own consent not the fucking government’s consent…fucking keyboards…

              • 2/17 Air Cav says:

                You nailed it, VOV. In addition to not asserting what you cannot know to be a sure thing, as Hondo did, I especially liked the part about sometimes telling the gov’t to go f itself. As for jury nullification, it is quite legal, although it is never, ever mentioned in jury instructions.

          • 2/17 Air Cav says:

            Hondo: Saying the same thing more than once does not make your point any stronger. You either see that we cannot know whether jury nullification occurred w/o hearing from the jurors or you do not.

            • Hondo says:

              True. Just as ignoring or intentionally avoiding discussing known facts doesn’t improve your argument.

              • 2/17 Air Cav says:

                “If the main charge was as reported, an element of that crime could have been weak. I don’t know but my point is neither does anyone else. If the jurors speak, maybe we’ll learn what went on in the jury room.”

                Today comes an answer from Juror#4. According to him, it wasn’t jury nullification that killed the gov’t’s case but the failure of the gov’t to prove an essential element of the main crime charged.Said he, “We were not asked to judge on bullets and hurt feelings, rather to decide if any agreement was made with an illegal object in mind. It seemed this basic high standard of proof was lost upon the prosecution throughout.” See, that ‘agreement’ which was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt was an essential element of conspiracy. Just b/c something seems to make sense (e.g., jury nullification) does not mean it is the explanation for the not guilty verdict. If a crime has three elements, it is not enough that two of the three are well established beyond a reasonable doubt.

          • USMCSteve says:

            And given the illegal actions of this “government”, jury nullification is not only warranted, but the last action we have in our quiver short of revolution to oppose them, when they routinely commit criminal acts and ignore the law. This was simply pushback short of bloodshed against one of the most heinously illegal acting agencies of the Government.

    • Gary Hunt says:

      It was not jury nullification. The jury decided that though the effect of the occupation resulted in the government employees not going to work, the government did not prove that “intent”, which is required by that statute, was not present.

  4. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    When you crap on people long enough that they’ve had it with the government that manifests itself just like this.

    Why does everyone think juries almost always go against insurance companies in civil court? Because most people have been fucked over by an insurance company at some point and awarding an outrageous penalty is their way of giving the insurance industry a strong fuck you right back for once. Sometimes justice is about something that has nothing to do with what’s actually on trial at the moment.

    Sounds like that was the case with letting these assclowns off the hook for their dipshit adventures earlier in the year.

  5. Dapandico says:

    Will the Feds charge and prosecute the native American protesters at the NODAK Pipeline?

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      That protest is against a private company, not the federal government. In reality, the tribes should band together and file a class action suit against the pipeline company.

      The jobs the company brags about creating will go away as soon as the pipeline is built, and frankly, as volatile as the Bakken shale oil is, it’s better transported by truck or rail than by pipeline. The whole business is generated out of selfishness and greed, nothing else.

      • CC Senor says:

        The pipeline is probably the better alternative for moving the oil because it’s fixed and easy to monitor. Train derailments are a fact of life and even the most conscientious truck driver may be hard pressed to avoid accidents caused by idiot drivers doing things like texting and driving.

        • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

          Not when a pipeline runs over, under, or next to anyone’s water supply as this pile of shit pipeline will do. Pipelines suffer breakages and leaks, it’s inevitable that it will happen at some point. Water supplies shouldn’t be compromised for this pipeline.

          They moved it to avoid poisoning the Bismarck water supply, where they moved it could poison the water for the Standing Rock Sioux….interesting choice.

        • Ex-PH2 says:

          Well, my response to what you said is that one tanker truck load of Bakken crude is far less likely to do damage that a leaking oil pipeline will do. Since we’ve all been witnesses to the carelessness of BP’s construction in the Gulf of Mexico, e.g., the oil platform fire that did NOT have to happen, the need for this oil pipeline doesn’t exist.
          This is proposed route is located on the border of North and South Dakota. If all the company wants to do is ship oil, they can find a different route or use the highway from Bismarck to Fargo. So why should people who have lived there for literally centuries be forced to put up with the probability of their land being damaged by some private company’s greedy shit?
          If it’s not okay for Bismarck’s water supply to be permanently destroyed, how come it’s okay for these other people.

          Yeah, that’s really great care by the federal government, isn’t it?

          Endeavor to persevere. – Lone Watie.

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      I hope not, private company or no the plan is from the Army Corps of engineers and there is a real problem that needs to be litigated before that pipeline should be allowed to continue.

      When it became clear in the original plan that a leak might poison the waters of Bismarck, it was decided it would be better to place that pipeline under the water supply of the non-white population of the Standing Rock Sioux…once again the Feds show how trustworthy they can be….

  6. Gravel says:

    I followed this closely. In my humble opinion, such as it is, the government should have been able to secure guilty verdicts.

    The problem is/was that the federal government, as is usually the case, overcharged, and multi-charged using the same set of facts for most of the charges. If they had simply gone for basic charges, instead of conspiracy charges to up the felony level, they would have secured at least some guilty verdicts.

  7. MK75Gunner says:

    I was in Portland this week while this trial was being held. Spoke with some of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) guys assigned to security of the Courthouse. They said it was generally quiet and the expected protests never materialized. I was quite surprised that they were acquitted given this trial was held in Portland, right downtown. Portland is full of progs who love the government. That a jury found them not guilty tells me that something is going on with people vis a vis being tired of being pushed around by an out of control government. Not saying the Bundy clown show was in the right but it is quite surprising nonetheless they were not found guilty.

  8. The Other Whitey says:

    Well, it’s Oregon. The weirdness is strong up there. But then again, the BLM’s penchant for EPA/IRS-like “We ARE the law” assholery is certainly biting them in the ass as well.

    This case was shitbags vs assholes right from the getgo. As much as I’m no fan of government overreach, I was just as unimpressed with the number of posers so prominently involved, well as Bundy’s theatrics about how the Feds were about to “murder us!” and his attempts to incite violence along those lines.

    Of course, the BLM will likely continue to be douchebags to the locals, the locals will continue to fuck with the BLM, and the poser ringleaders will show their ass somewhere else.

  9. CCO says:

    And then there was the man that got shot in his truck during this.

    • Gravel says:

      If you’re referring to Finicum, he wasn’t shot in his truck … watch the videos.

      *Finicum was clearly outside of the vehicle.

      *Finicum was suspected (later proven to be fact) of being armed with a handgun.

      *Finicum made a “furtive” movement as if to draw a firearm.

      It’s all right there on YouTube … wrong or right he paid the price for his own stupidity in action.

      • Martinjmpr says:

        Funny about how many people will characterize Finicum as an innocent victim while dismissing Michael Brown’s “hands up don’t shoot” nonsense.

        As others have said many times, play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Reach for a gun when the cops are drawing down on you? Yeah, you’re gonna get shot doing that.

      • USMCSteve says:

        Yes it is, and the drone footage showed him doing nothing remotely furtive or aggressive. He was fully aware they had no problem with murdering him, which is what they did, as well as mocking him while they allowed him to bleed out.

        • Gravel says:

          Obviously you haven’t watched the video. He most definitely reaches into his jacket.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5J9NHAiC4E

          You can clearly see him reaching into his jacket in the footage.

        • reddevil says:

          You are clearly watching a different video than I am.

          He got out of his truck and reached into his jacket towards his gun.

          I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if they mocked him, but I find it highly doubtful. That sounds like terrorist propaganda to me.

  10. lily says:

    I detect books and a movie coming about the incident. The IRS will have to take em down.

  11. Perry Gaskill says:

    It seems to me that in order to understand the Portland acquittal, it’s necessary to go back to the Hammond arson case which triggered the Malheur standoff in the first place. For the federal government to send the Hammonds back to prison for an anti-terrorism statute, after they had already served time, defied fairness and common sense. Once that happened, at least from the standpoint of the Bundys and others, the normal rules went out the window. Sometimes enough is enough.

    For those living in more eastern locales who might not be aware of it, roughly 50 percent of the land west of the Mississippi is under federal control. There’s also an argument that can be made that states such as Oregon should have been granted their own control over public lands but were unfairly denied such rights by political games in Congress.

    And for a long time, none of that actually mattered much because the federal government had adopted a relatively benign posture as land-use policy. Mixed-use activity such as ranching, logging, recreation, or whatever was allowed as a matter of best use in the public interest. Fast-forward to the late ’60s, and a shift in environmental policy caused that to change. Those now pushing radical environmentalism don’t actually want any public use of the land at all. What they want is for the land to somehow magically revert to pristine “wilderness” with access by only a few federal employees or those funded with research grants.

    What also seems apparent is that a lot of the land-use policy is determined by a bureaucracy which has grown more exempt from oversight.

    Consider the following hypothetical: What would happen if tomorrow the federal good idea fairy decided that in the interest of fighting global warming it should condemn Manhattan Island via eminent domain and have it revert to pristine wilderness? The notion might sound ridiculous on the face of it, but it’s not that far off from what’s going on out West.

  12. Daisy Cutter says:

    “stolen valor bonanza”

    stolen valor cornucopia

    the stolen valor hive

    stolen valor plenitude

    There’s a lot of ways you can go with this.

  13. Just An Old Dog says:

    11 people have already pled quilty from the 26 charged, one was sentenced to 30 months in August and 6 more are going to trail at a later date.
    Of interest, and another example of how feds are going after the group is that two of them face charges of using a backhoe to dig a slit trench to use as an outhouse because the facilities in the building were backed up ( probably because the feds shut off water)
    They claim that the area is close to some tribal sacred burial land and the tribe says what they did is the equivalent of taking a shit in Arlington.
    Pretty far stretch.

  14. Joe says:

    One juror stated that the “not guilty” verdict not mean “innocent”. The juror stated that the prosecution failed to make the narrow conspiracy case. The jurors even asked the judge why the gov’t opted for a charge that was so hard to prove instead of say, trespass. It was thought that simple trespass would not have carried a serious enough penalty. The came up with the wrong charges and lost a case they should have won. And after bending over backwards to prevent another Waco and having it come back to bite them, maybe next time the gov’t won’t be so patient.

    • Silentium Est Aureum says:

      So you’re hoping your hero Clinton brings back Janet Reno and burns out 100 or so innocent women and kids?

      Atta boy, Joe–you never fail to disappoint.

      • 68W58 says:

        But they’re bad people SEA (by which Joe means “they oppose him politically”) and so those with power should make them pay.

        Not that he’s a nasty fascist little thug or anything.

        • Silentium Est Aureum says:

          Absolutely. Liberals don’t give a shit for the rule of law or the process, as long as they get the results they want.

          Lex bovis, non Jovis, as someone said a while back.

          Joe is such a fucking moron he doesn’t even recognize his own hypocrisy or disdain for that which he claims to champion.

          While I think it was bullshit they were found not guilty, the jury has spoken, and justice has taken place.

          Oh, and Joe? As a lawyer family member once told me, justice is not a result, but the process. Just because you don’t like the ending, doesn’t mean you didn’t have your day.

          Now go clean the puke up out of the boy’s restroom.

    • UpNorth says:

      “One juror stated that the “not guilty” verdict not mean “innocent”. No shit, Joe. Really? Hell, even the kids who sleep through Government class in high school know that. That’s why the verdict is “not guilty”, not “innocent”.
      But, thanks so much for showing up and showing your ignorance. Good to see that some things, like you, never change.

  15. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    I’m tempted but you two are doing a fine job.

  16. Joe says:

    “by which Joe means ‘they oppose him politically’” – yeah, trying to steal my land definitely qualifies as “opposing me politically”. In this case opposing me politically cost one guy his life, jail and prison time or a bunch more, probable bankruptcies, and the Bunkerville trial hasn’t even started yet! Hopefully the dept of justice learns from its mistakes.

    • 68W58 says:

      They absolutely did learn from the mistakes they made at Waco-your entire existence is a testament to your inability to learn from either your own mistakes or those of anyone else.

  17. Joe says:

    If the Bundy Gang tries to steal any more of my land, maybe they can star in one of your Monday Feel Good stories.