Posts

The Trials of Snack Team 6: Is it Ammon Bundy or Ammon Buddha?

Slide1

Ammon Bundy has now completed his three days on the stand in his own defense. What have we learned? We’ve learned that Ammon Bundy thinks he’s the Buddha.

“Is it your testimony today you were not the leader?” Knight continued.

Bundy told Knight he wanted to clarify “what you’re wanting me to say.”

“I teach correct principles and let them govern themselves,” Bundy said.

Oy vey…

Bundy also testified that:

Knight said guns were brought to “keep the federal government away,” right?

“No,” Bundy responded.

Yet Knight reminded him of his testimony that if the occupiers hadn’t brought firearms to the refuge, they likely would have been hauled off in zip ties and handcuffs in a paddy wagon.

“So the presence of guns prolonged your presence?” Knight asked.

“It protected us from being detained,” Bundy said. “I would say they allowed us to express our First Amendment rights.”

And LaVoy Finicum’s widow also testified!

She said her husband got a call on New Year’s Day, asking him to support the Jan. 2 rally in Burns in support of Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, ordered to return to prison for arson on federal lands.

She said her husband drove all night to Burns with co-defendant Ryan Bundy. She thought he’d stay a day or two, and when he told her he was at the refuge and planned to be there, she urged him to return to Utah.

“The first part of the week I repeatedly asked my husband to come home,” she said, breaking down in tears.

By the end of that first week, she said her husband was committed to staying because local ranchers had urged him to do so. She visited the refuge the weekend of Jan. 22, and had planned to meet up with her husband again in Idaho on the following weekend.

The judge didn’t allow anyone to question Finicum’s widow about her husband’s shooting, or a wrongful death lawsuit that she intends to bring against the government.

“She should not be asked about his death, period,” U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown instructed.

We have additional coverage from earlier in the week from Balloon Juice Bunker embedded commentator Soylent Green who offers the following disclaimer: “Note that I am very much not a lawyer and don’t understand the rules, so won’t go into much detail. I just want to capture the trial’s overall character.”

A Day at the Bundy Trial (October 3)

I got to the courthouse early. After guests of the lawyers and defendants were allowed into the courtroom, there was space available for eight members of the public. I was number nine in line. So I had to watch the trial on closed-circuit from the overflow room. In the jury seating of courtroom 13A I was surrounded by a gaggle of Bundy fans – cheerful middle-aged women with flag accessories, bedazzled jeans and purses, cowboy boots, big western belt buckles.

Testifying on Monday were Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, then four Bundy supporters. Three were Burns, Oregon, locals, and the fourth was one of the occupiers, who like many of the occupiers was never charged.

The prosecution has worked very hard to prevent this from becoming a circus trial, which is the intent of Ammon and his team. They keep trying hard to push their narrative, the one in which the federal government is an evil, tyrannical monster countered by a brave band of true patriots who held a peaceful protest to convey how the U.S. constitution proves that the federal government has no authority over public lands. The Bundy gang earnestly believes this narrative will sway the jury to their cause because God is on their side. However, Judge Anna Brown is having none of it, shutting down most of their endless attempts to speechify or extract phrasing from witnesses in ways that are irrelevant, argumentative, hearsay, nonsense, or otherwise a waste of the jury’s time. The prosecution made what should be a slam-dunk case for a guilty verdict, but Ammon’s strategy may work if he can sway or mislead the jury.

Throughout the trial, Ammon Bundy has been dressed in his blue jail scrubs. The judge forbade him from wearing his cowboy costume, so this is his way of sending a message that he is a political prisoner in a kangaroo court. Meanwhile, Ryan Bundy has been wearing a dark suit and tie, but with a leather vest under the jacket to maintain his cowboy cred.

Next to Ryan is Shawna Cox and behind her is David Fry, slouched with his knees up, feet on Shawna’s chair and with a fixed sullen expression.

Ryan and Shawna are representing themselves, thus are conducting their own direct and cross examinations of the witnesses, with comical results.

Ammon’s lawyer Marcus Mumford (aka “Mumbles”) is a piece of work. He is not an impassive professional but a fellow Sovereign Citizen (SovCit) true believer. The man has a serious stuttering problem. And his speech in general is halting and unfocused. And he gets excited and frustrated and whiny. This is not how lawyers on TV lawyer shows talk.

(This is verbatim). Mumford greeting a witness: “uh, uh, guh, guh, guh, good, uh, guh, good morning, Mr. Rose.” Mumford asks a question: “You understand that Ammon Bundy was, uh, uh, was, was, was, asking that, and, and, uh, uh…” (loses train of thought). Or he chokes on the first word of a sentence, can’t get it out, then there’s a long pause before he starts over. This has been going on the entire trial and is driving everyone crazy.

Worse it that Mumbles has been ill-prepared for each day’s proceedings. He has not cleared his witness or exhibits with the prosecution. He has not prepared his exhibits for trial use, and keeps trying to get the jury to watch hour-long unedited videos instead of excerpting them. He has not given the judge what she needs to review in advance. Then (this went on all day, and I’m told has been going on every day since the trial started on Sept. 7) Judge Brown must admonish him to get his act together. Repeatedly, with waning patience. You can hear the exasperation in her voice. He tries to introduce exhibits (videos, letters, all kind of stuff that the poots have been spreading on social media all year) that have no bearing on the case. (Aside: “poots” is the new term for Bundy supporters of any stripe, short for “pootriots,” from the occupiers’ use of a government backhoe to dig latrines at the refuge.) He wants to show hours of videos from the Bunkerville standoff of patriots cheering as they heroically hold off the jackbooted government thugs. Then the judge must spend an hour or more each day winnowing down all this junk. The defense is not really defending against the charges because Ammon’s gang believes that their cause transcends federal law.

All day long we hear “Counselor, I have told you over and over, please stop wasting the jury’s time.” Or after Mumford calls witnesses to the stand, he strays into unrelated areas. So I kept hearing the judge say “Please move on” … “Get to the point” … “Irrelevant. Ask another question” … “Move to another subject please.”

This may be intentional. Mumford may be trying to bore the jury to death so that they stop listening to the testimony. Or to confuse the jurors enough to get a hung jury.

The tenor of this trial can be captured in two words. “Objection.” “Sustained.” In this single day I heard something like 150 instances from the prosecutors of “objection, irrelevant” or “objection, argumentative” or “objection, hearsay” with almost all of them sustained. The judge keeps trying to keep the trial focused and the Bundy gang keeps trying to pitch their stirring narrative (patriotic Americans standing against the evil gubmint).

In the morning they called Sheriff Ward to the stand and tried to get him to confirm their story. In their version, they asked him very nicely (meeting with him repeatedly in the months before the occupation) to do his duty and protect his citizens (the Hammonds) from the feds. In a letter, Ammon asked him to “turn your weapons” on federal marshals coming to return the Hammonds to jail to complete their sentence. Mumford presented this letter as though it somehow exonerated his client.

Ward is in a tough spot. He must go home to Burns fearing retribution by some yahoo. He kept his cool and answered questions very tersely. I don’t know why the defense called him as a witness because he did them no favors. I think they wanted to show that he had failed to do his duty thus was to blame for their next move. In their minds, all sheriffs are constitutional sheriffs, but most don’t know it yet and must be edjumicated.

While Judge Brown was speaking, Ammon interrupted her, more than once. “Sir, sir, keep quiet please.”

When Ryan Bundy is speaking, he uses big words incorrectly. He is trying to sound like a lawyer. There is a cockiness in his voice.

The afternoon witnesses: all four have been well-coached by the defense team to drop Bundy narrative talking points.

First up is Kim Rollins, longtime Burns resident. An older man with a glorious white beard that would put Santa Claus to shame. “Did you see any guns on display at the refuge?” “No, never.” (Not remotely true as there are many images of cosplay commandos with assault rifles.) Did he see any damage to the facility? No, it was very well cared for.

Next up is Pat Harlicher of Burns. Mumford: “Uh uh did, how, how, how, how did you be, become informed about the refuge?” Harlicher said he visited the occupation six times, with many friends along. It was a happy family camping scene. No guns on display. “I learned that what the constitution says about our public lands and the need to return them to their rightful owners.” Judge Brown instructs the jury to disregard this statement. But they’ve heard and processed it, which must be the defense’s intention. Harlicher is asked about what is going on in Burns during the occupation and he remarks about the big police presence around the county courthouse (where Harney County Judge Grasty had received death threats) and Harlicher says, “It was like a scene out of Red Dawn.”

Third witness, Brand Nu Thornton of Las Vegas (yep, that’s his name). Thornton is one of the occupiers and was present before it started, planning it with Ammon, and stayed until the day before Ammon was arrested. But he skated with no charges, go figure. Thornton is the shofar (rams horn) guy. Says he has a “shofar ministry.” On the stand, he is wearing a Mexican serape. A smug bastard, smiles and laughs a lot. Waves to David Fry. Shawna Cox winks at him. He drops his talking points. “After the ambush where LaVoy was murdered by the FBI…” Judge Brown: “Jurors, disregard that remark.”

Thornton’s biggest whopper of the day: Were federal workers impeded from doing their jobs? No, we would have given them a warm welcome and let them work. Had the refuge fisheries biologist come in, the occupiers would have given her back her chair. (This after they had rifled through all her work and personal files). Of course they ignore the fact that the first duty of the Fish and Wildlife Service staff would be to clear the public from all the non-public space, which is every inch of the facility except the bird museum at the front.

On Tuesday morning, Thornton was in the street blowing his shofar. I heard him from my desk.

I’ll stop here as there are better reporters of these proceedings. See their tweets on Fogbow.

I’m not absolutely sure the government will win this case. The jury members were chosen because they had not (or said they hadn’t) heard anything about this case, which was big national news, and bigger news in Oregon. Several are from deep-red eastern Oregon, where anti-federal-land-manager sentiment runs strong. Some might be swayed by the Bundy narrative, no matter how much the judge swats it down. I doubt it but it’s possible.

UPDATE: A lot has happened in the last two days, with Ammon on the witness stand, where he gave a tearful, godbothering account of his quixotic cause. God compelled him to pursue it. If federal laws were broken, justice demands that they be disregarded. Some observers are saying that the trial is off the rails and the judge has lost control, because the defense witnesses have been given more latitude to sell their fairy tale. (Michelle Fiore got in another “Lavoy was murdered.” Judge: Jurors, disregard that remark.)

Other commenters say the judge is playing eleventy dimensional chess by allowing the defense to do the prosecution’s work and proudly, willfully incriminate themselves in both cases, Oregon and Nevada.

America is on a slippery slope. Belief, biases, and bullshit are trying to push aside rationalism and the rule of law. Trumpism is the leading edge, of which the Bundy/militia/SovCit movement is a subset.



The Trials of Snack Team Six: Day Three

Slide1

Today was the third day in court for the members of Snack Team 6. When last we left our stalwart, masticating patriots their leader Ammon Bundy (call sign Munchies 6) was making the political statement that he was a political prisoner. But that, good citizens, was yesterday and what everyone* wants to know is what happened today. So without further ado…

Snack Team 6 opened with a motion to declare the trial a mistrial this morning. Ammon Bundy’s argument, made by his attorney Marcus Mumford, is that Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward’s testimony on the first day was highly prejudicial and that Judge Brown had not done enough (anything?) to deal with it. As always The Oregonian’s Maxine Bernstein is on the case:

Bundy’s lawyer Marcus Mumford had asked Ward during his cross-examination Wednesday if he had conducted his own investigation into the 2014 armed standoff that occurred near Bunkerville, Nevada with federal officers attempting to corral Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s ranch cattle. Cliven Bundy is Ammon Bundy’s father.

Ward explained that what he learned about the Nevada standoff “scared the hell” out of him. The sheriff went on to note that he had discovered during a Google search on the Internet that “some unstable people who had left that situation” killed two police officers while they were eating lunch in a restaurant.

In court, Mumford asked the judge to strike Ward’s comments, arguing they were unresponsive. The judge denied his motion.

Bundy’s older brother, Ryan Bundy, then stood up and objected, also asking the court to strike Ward’s statements, initially citing a hearsay objection but quickly contending instead that the comments were prejudicial.

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown found merit in Ryan Bundy’s objection, and told jurors to disregard Ward’s references to events in Bunkerville that had to do with police officers being killed.

Now, Mumford argues that the judge’s instructions to jurors didn’t go far enough.

“While the Court offered a curative explanation to the jury, that instruction was inadequate in light of the highly inflammatory and prejudicial insinuations that Mr. Bundy’s actions are somehow related to a high-profile, double-murder of police officers,” Mumford wrote in his motion. “Accordingly, Mr. Bundy moves for a mistrial and dismissal with prejudice.”

If the court isn’t inclined to grant a mistrial, Mumford offered the judge three alternatives: strike all of the sheriff’s testimony, hold an evidentiary hearing to inquire further about what Ward learned from other law enforcement about the Bunkerville standoff, or tell the jury Ward’s statement was unfounded and intended to prejudice his client.

“Sheriff Ward is a governmental agent and a central governmental witness who was clearly aware of the prejudice he was unfairly creating with his testimony, which he intentionally directed at Mr. Bundy and his counsel, as indicated by his indignant use of the word “sir,” in the answer at issue,” Mumford wrote.

Moving quickly along, the Prosecution called a number of FBI agents to the stand today and they testified about the Facebook postings and other social media messaging written and/or sent by the Bundys and their followers before and during the standoff at the Malheur Federal Wildlife Refuge.

Four FBI agents who combed through about 300,000 pages of 23 Facebook accounts belonging to defendants in the federal conspiracy case, searching for terms relevant to the alleged conspiracy, also testified. They read aloud the messages and posts, as prosecutors put them on computer screens so jurors could read them.

In several of Ammon Bundy’s posts, he criticized Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, claiming the sheriff was “collaborating with the violators,” while he vowed to “do whatever it takes” to protect Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steve Hammond from having to return to federal prison on arson convictions.

“We as people desire to live in peace and tranquility, but we will defend our friends if necessary, Respectfully Ammon Bundy,” one post read. During the occupation, Ammon Bundy uploaded a video of him seated in a refuge office, saying, “We basically came out here not to protest, stomp our feet…We came out here to make a difference.”

As always click across if you want to see all of The Oregonian‘s great coverage of the trial.

We’ll be back Monday with another edition of How the Bundy Bounces – same Bundy time, same Bundy station!

Stay hungry citizens!

* Everyone being defined as Bella Q and LAO.



Snack Team Six Trial Day 3: The Political Prisoner is in Court Your Honor

 

Slide1

Today, Ammon Bundy the leader of Snack Team Six, appeared in court wearing his prison scrubs to make the point that he is a political prisoner.

“Mr. Bundy desires to appear as he is, a political prisoner not free to dress as if presumed innocent,” attorney J. Morgan Philpot said, reading his client’s statement. “He would prefer to drop the facade and appear as the political prisoner he has been made.”

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown asked Bundy to stand. She inquired whether it was his choice to appear in jail attire, and if anyone took his suit away.

“Your honor, I have no comment,” he replied.

The judge told him she must know if his decision was voluntary.

“I have no comment,” he repeated.

Philpot interjected, “Mr. Bundy feels he really has no choice — that that’s been taken from him.”

It appears that Mr. Bundy and the rest of Snack Team 6 seem intent on turning Judge Brown’s court into a circus to suit their own purposes. It remains to be seen just how successful they will be.



Balloon Juice Bunker Standoff Update: KGW’s Interview with Ammon Bundy

elftx pointed me towards KGW’s interview with Ammon Bundy very early this morning in the embers of the comments thread from yesterday’s post.

Part 1:

http://

Part 2:

http://








Balloon Juice Bunker Standoff Update: Conflicting Reports Edition (updated for clarity at 7:55 PM)

We still have four holdouts at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. They were indicted on Wednesday by a Federal Grand Jury along with the 11 others that had previously been charged. The only way for them to leave the refuge now, provided they don’t decide to do something really stupid, is to be taken into Federal custody. Interestingly enough, as Les Zaitz points out on twitter, Blaine Cooper is not among the indicted. This will likely fuel further conspiracy mongering that he is, in fact, a government infiltrator of the movement. He is also violent and always heavily armed too.

Ammon Bundy decided to issue another statement through his attorney. This one informs us that he and his fellow extremists’ actions were necessary and that Federal and state law enforcement need to leave Harney County. This follows his previous statements that the remaining four holdouts need to leave and that he respects Article III Courts and Article III judges. These statements are coded language remarks. They appear to say one thing to those outside the culture and another to those inside. I’ll let the lawyers within our commentariat weigh in, but I would expect that if he keeps making these statements all he is going to do is set himself up for trouble with the prosecutors and the judge assigned to his case. His father Cliven isn’t helping things as he’s now claimed authority over the refuge and those still occupying it.

Speaking of judges: the US District Chief Judge handling the cases affirmed the ruling of the Federal magistrate that did the arraignments in Oregon, and refused Pete Santilli bail, or any other form of release. Chief District Judge Mosman is very concerned about Santilli’s remarks threatening to kill Federal officers if they were to try to take his guns away or arrest him. John Ritzheimer was also denied release by US District Judge Willett because he poses a danger to the community and is a flight risk. He is to be transported to Federal detention in Oregon to await further proceedings. Finally, Harney County Judge and Executive Grasty replied to the grievance he received from the Pacific Patriots Network (PPN) indicating that he, Sheriff Ward, and two county commissioners would not be resigning. Nor would anyone be arresting any Federal or Oregon State officers and charging them with the murder of LaVoy Finicum as the Deschutes County Major Incident Team is reviewing the shooting.

The Oregon Sheriff’s Association issued a statement explaining the role of the sheriff, as well as why the events at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge are illegal. Notice the language about taking up arms against local and Federal governments:

Response-to-Questions-Regarding-the-Oregon-Office-of-Sheriff

Finicum’s funeral was today and the fact that fellow travelers and supporters from all over the US were going to attend caused a great deal of concern that something might be planned for today or over the weekend. At one point last night JJ McNabb in her twitter feed indicated she had an uneasy feeling about this. Fortunately she was able to report today that the PPN’s Call to Action for tomorrow has been cancelled. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything isn’t still planned. Some of the concern was generated by a call to the Sheriff by the staff of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center over a suspicious man who entered the Center. There was also a Facebook posting by the rancher that Finicum convinced to formally renounce his grazing agreement that specifically identified interest in the Interpretive Center in connection with the militia meet up at Halfway, OR tomorrow. Since we have conflicting reports, there may be something happening tomorrow or they may not be something happening tomorrow.

Finally, there’s this very interesting, and long, video dealing with what is going on at the refuge, as well as with the beliefs of those involved with the occupation. It was done by a pair of political science graduates from Oregon State. While the whole thing is interesting, the two really begin to deal with the beliefs, doctrines, and ideologies of the occupiers around the 22 minute mark. Please note: I found the link to this on JJ McNabb’s twitter feed and I cannot in any way verify that these two men actually went out and spoke to anyone. I would guess that she can’t either. So take the video for what it is.