Ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond pardoned

| July 10, 2018

The Associated Press reports that the father-son team of ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, whose imprisonment sparked the Malheur Valor Thief Convention in Oregon in 2016, were pardoned by President Trump.

A sympathetic judge had sentenced the pair to reduced imprisonment terms, but prosecutors won an appeal that sentenced the ranchers to sentencing minimum of 5 years terms.

In a statement Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called that decision to resentence the Hammonds “unjust.”

“The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West,” she said. “Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency.”

The Hammonds asked the valor thieves at Malheur to abandon their pointless occupation of the National Wildlife Refuge, but their pleas were largely ignored by the occupiers.

Category: Crime

Comments (38)

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  1. Skippy says:

    I’m still at a loss how a action (range burning and clearing) that is preformed thousands of time across the West
    With a few getting out of control landed these two in prison for 5 years ????
    Our DAMN GOVERNMENT is out of control

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      They were in a designated wildlife area when they did that. There were other things that happened, too, but that was the start of it.

  2. 2banana says:

    And Hillary and Jon Corzine walk free…

    • Herbert J Messkit says:

      I used to make the same remark about Corzine but in the ensuing years of inaction completely forgot about him. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. Yef says:

    What’s the Malheur Valor Thief Convention?

    Google just links me back to TAH when searching this.

  4. sapper3307 says:

    Let’s see, one brush fire was used to hide a drunken weekend of poaching. And the second fire was started behind a group of fire fighters battling another fire to their front effectively trapping them.

  5. Perry Gaskill says:

    To this day, something that’s never been explained very well is why the Portland prosecutor decided to appeal the original judge’s sentence. It was almost a matter of double jeopardy. A reasonable explanation might be that the Hammonds were set up as an example of what happens when you defy the federal government even when the fed’s are, at least from the standpoint of fairness and justice, in the wrong.

    Also, I wonder if Jon Ritzheimer ever finished his bag of gummi dicks. It was a big bag if memory serves…

    • Mason says:

      Wasn’t the sentence appealed because it violated the mandatory minimum sentence?

      If I’m remembering that righ, it would seem that the judge (regardless of my or your personal feelings on the matter) would be usurping the will of the people as expressed through lawfully passed legislation requiring a minimum sentence. Judges ignoring mandatory minimum sentences disturbs me and reeks of judicial activism.

      • Perry Gaskill says:

        IIRC, the mandatory minimum sentence of five years was for terrorism which was not part of the original charges. Personally, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around how what the Hammonds did qualifies. Also, the stories about getting drunk, poaching deer, and trapping firefighters seem to change and get more serious over time. Personally, it strikes me as so much BLM ass covering.

        There were also too many others without a stake in the federal case who contradicted the seriousness of what the feds were claiming.

        I think there’s a legitimate concern that the prosecutor in Portlandia, motivated by environmental or political issues, wanted to teach those redneck ranchers in Eastern Oregon a lesson. It wasn’t justice. It was an exercise in petty vindictiveness.

        • SFC D says:

          There’s no question the Hammonds did some serious wanker-walking, but I agree that it went from justice to vengeance by an overzealous prosecutor. I never understood how the first judge was able to get away with the less-than-minimum sentence in the first place. Shouldn’t that have been slapped down before anyone left the courtroom?

          • SFC D says:

            Please remove “Malheurs” and replace it with “Hammonds”. I’ll put myself in timeout.

          • Martinjmpr says:

            Shouldn’t that have been slapped down before anyone left the courtroom?

            By who? Nobody “outranks” a judge in his own courtroom. In his courtroom, a judge is GOD.

            The “Slap down” happened when the prosecutor took the case to a higher judge who did, indeed, slap down the sentence because the first judge’s sentence was in clear violation of the law.

        • 5JC says:

          Some of their actions fell under the anti-terror act of 1996. I will say that the actions of the prosecution team were unfair. The accused agreed to a plea and took it. Then they were then stabbed in the back and the government reneged.

          Still it is tough for me to to be sympathetic with rich land grabbers making threats to fire fighters and putting lives in danger.

          The standoff at the ranch was disavowed by the Hammonds which is good on them, even though it was supposedly done in their name.

          So Yef; there you go again, bringing up shit that has nothing to do with the actual facts. Do you do this every single time or is it just a hobby?

          • Hondo says:

            The accused agreed to a plea and took it. Then they were then stabbed in the back and the government reneged.


            The Hammonds agreed to a plea deal after they’d each already been convicted of two counts of arson, and acquitted on two others. The terms of the deal were that the government would drop the other four pending charges against them and allow their sentences for the two arson convictions to run concurrently; in return, the Hammonds agreed not to appeal their sentence. They were fully aware that the mandatory minimum sentence for their arson convictions was 5 years.

            If anyone got “backstabbed” here, it was the prosecution. The judge had zero legal authority to sentence the Hammonds to less than 5 years in prison. He did. The appeal by the prosecution was on that basis (clear legal error by the judge), and resulted in that legal error being corrected.

        • Hondo says:

          That is incorrect, PG. Arson of Federal property has a mandatory 5 year minimum sentence. And that – not terrorism – is the crime for which the Hammonds were convicted.

          The applicable Federal statute is 18 USC 844(f)(1); it’s quoted below.

          (1) Whoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other personal or real property in whole or in part owned or possessed by, or leased to, the United States, or any department or agency thereof, or any institution or organization receiving Federal financial assistance, shall be imprisoned for not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years, fined under this title, or both.

          In the Hammonds’ arson case, the judge presiding over their trial – who was hearing his last case before retirement – flatly ignored explicit Federal law and cut the Hammonds a break. My guess is he only did that because he was retiring and knew there’d be no repercussions for him for doing so.

          That clear error of law on the part of the judge during sentencing – e.g., his willful disregard for explicit Federal law – was the basis of the prosecution’s appeal. The appeals court sided with the prosecution, vacated the Hammonds’ original sentence, and directed they be re-sentenced. On re-sentencing, a judge who obeyed his oath and followed the law sentenced them to the correct minimum sentence for their crime.

          • 5JC says:

            That is one of the codes that was amended under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. That came about because of OKC and the WTC bombings.

            • Hondo says:

              That may be true, but it is also irrelevant.

              The crime for which the Hammonds were convicted was two counts of arson of Federal property – nothing more. Terrorism had diddly to do with it.

    • The Other Whitey says:

      “Also, I wonder if Jon Ritzheimer ever finished his bag of gummi dicks. It was a big bag if memory serves…”

      He threw them out for not tasting real enough.

  6. Mason says:

    Not sure how I feel about this. I think these guys did commit the arsons, nearly trapping some BLM fire fighters, which is unconscionable.

    Don’t know if they deserve the full five years, but if that’s the minimum, that’s the penalty for breaking the law.

    I can’t find if this was a commutation or a full pardon. If he just reduced the sentence, I think I can be happy with it. A full pardon seems inappropriate and really slaps the wild land fire fighters in the face.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      I agree. They were “defying the law” or whatever, and from what I’ve seen, it seems to have been mostly out of spite on their part.

    • Martinjmpr says:

      I can’t find if this was a commutation or a full pardon.

      Multiple news sources (including the one cited in this article) use the term “Pardon” and not “commutation.” So unless a further clarification emerges, it looks like it was indeed a full pardon.

      IOW, scot-free, wiped off the books, from a legal standpoint, it never happened and the Hammonds are no longer convicted felons (well, not for this. If they have no other felony convictions, they are no longer convicted felons.)

  7. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Under common law, arson must involve a dwelling place and it is that element which makes the crime so nasty and punishments appropriately harsh. Enter statutory law and, if you look at states, there are all sorts of arson types, from dumpster burning to burning unoccupied premises and businesses, to the common law type. They are often distinguished by degrees. Anyway, this was federal law and there was no discretion permitted. What the sentencing judge personally thought should not have been a factor. When judges who are not free to contravene law do so with impunity, I am usually the first to yell foul. In this case (mark your calendar) the 9th Circuit got it right.

    • Martinjmpr says:

      Even a broken clock, etc…;)

    • Martinjmpr says:

      Pedantic legal point: Under old English Common Law, it was only “Arson” if it was an occupied dwelling that belonged to someone else.

      Burning one’s own home was not considered “arson”, rather there was a lesser crime known as “house burning.” Burning an unoccupied dwelling or a building that was not a dwelling (a barn, for example) was not arson under old English common law.