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

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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: The Contemptening

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When last we left our intrepid heroes they were attempting to impeach, post facto, the credibility of Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward. In our most recent installment, however, Ammon Bundy’s attorney has decided that what this trial needs is more references to the late LaVoy Finicum! Maxine Berstein, doing yeoman’s (yeowoman? yeoperson?) at The Oregonian, has the details:

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown on Thursday threatened to hold Ammon Bundy’s lawyer in contempt of court each time he defies her order and tries to delve into the circumstances surrounding the officer-involved fatal shooting of refuge occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during trial.

The judge told attorney Marcus Mumford that she’d fine him $1,000 each time he raises the issue in front of jurors in the federal conspiracy trial of Bundy and six others stemming from the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

“I have ruled on this issue and it appears to me you disregard it,” Brown told Mumford after excusing the jury for a morning restroom break.

“Do you understand what I’m saying … yes or no?” the judge asked Mumford as he was about to explain. She cut him off, requesting a simple answer, just as he’s done to witnesses on the stand.

“I don’t understand. Your honor says I’m asking improper questions?” Mumford said.

The judge pointed to Mumford’s questioning of rancher Andy Dunbar, whose property is adjacent to the eastern Oregon refuge, about what he learned on Jan. 26 about the fatal shooting of Finicum.

“You are not to do that,” Brown said.

“You’re telling me I’m allowed to inquire about the shooting, but not the circumstances of the shooting?” Mumford asked.

Brown reminded him: Anything about Finicum’s shooting death, beyond that it occurred and the date, isn’t allowed to be discussed in front of jurors.

“I can understand the words,” Mumford told her.

“I hope you can comply,” the judge said.

The admonition followed days of directions by the judge to Mumford about restricting his questions during cross-examination to the testimony elicited during prosecutors’ direct examination of witnesses. She has frequently sustained prosecutors’ objections to Mumford’s lines of questioning because they were either irrelevant or “beyond the scope” of the direct testimony during the past two weeks of trial.

The judge instructed Mumford and all other attorneys to take any concerns up with her outside the presence of the jury if they want to ask questions that go beyond her order.

Tune back in on Monday for our next installment of How the Snack Team Digests. Same Bundy time, same Bundy station!



The Trials of Snack Team Six: Day Three

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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

 

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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.



Bundy Bunch Trial Update Day 2!

The first witness called by the prosecution as they began to make their case today was Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward.  Sheriff Ward testified that:

“I was told my responsibility was to prevent them from going to prison, and if I didn’t do those things, they would bring hundreds of people to town to do my job for me,” Ward testified.

The ultimatum “in my mind, sounded bad,” the sheriff said.

Bundy also referenced the 2014 standoff with federal officers outside his father Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada, calling Bunkerville “a great victory” because the federal government was forced to retreat.

Ward said he encouraged Bundy and Payne to work through lawful channels rather than contemplating civil unrest, and stressed that the community would not tolerate the type of actions that occurred at Bunkerville.

Ward said he made it clear to the two men that, “We could not have violence or bloodshed in our community.”

He also testified that:

In a followup call, after it became apparent Ammon Bundy was taking a leadership role, the sheriff cautioned him. If anything goes wrong in the community, Ward said, “you’re going to be held responsible for it.”

Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office was being flooded with with emails and phone calls seeking his intervention in the Hammonds’ situation. The agency was seeing 10 times the usual volume, he said, and it was impossible to keep up.

Among those were two November 2015 emails from co-defendant Neil Wampler. On Nov. 17, Wampler wrote that the sheriff had two options for handling the Hammond case: Protect your constituents or “see your county invaded by some of the most determined and organized and armed citizens alive in this country today.

“The Bundys have sent out a nationwide alert.”

Three days later, Wampler sent another email to Ward. Part of it read, “I assure you that our determination to protect the Hammonds is no Bluff…Hundreds of armed citizens, including yours truly, are prepared and waiting for the call WE AIN’T PLAYIN’. As Sheriff Poindexter said, let the chips fall where they may.”

Ammon Bundy also issued him an ultimatum:

“You have one week, sheriff,” Ward said Bundy told him, before adding something to the effect of, “One week to do the right thing.”

Click on over to read all of Maxine Bernstein’s excellent coverage of the trial. Here’s the rest of today’s highlights and a lay out of where things go from here.

We’ll be back tomorrow night, good citizens, to check in on how the Bundys Turn. Same Bundy time, same Bundy station.



Bundy Bunch Update: The Trial Begins

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(Worst Episode of Hollywood Squares Ever!)

Much to LAO and Bella Q’s delight, the trial for the remaining defendants – as in those who hadn’t pled out or had their charges dropped – in the Bundy family led Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Occupation began this week in Federal Court in Oregon. The lines to get in were long! The Prosecution opened up their case today, delineating how the Bundys and several of their codefendants had carefully planned their actions and that they were in clear violation of numerous Federal laws.

Barrow, during opening statements in the long-anticipated Oregon standoff trial, used Ammon Bundy’s own words caught on video Jan. 2 to argue that Bundy and his co-defendants aren’t being prosecuted for holding a political protest, but for leading an armed occupation of the refuge.

He played a video of Bundy standing atop a snowbank in the Safeway parking lot in Burns in his blue plaid flannel jacket and cowboy hat, declaring, “Those who understand what has happened here … I’m asking you to follow me to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. We’re going to make a hard stand. … We’re going to insist the Constitution be protected here in this country.”

“We are not prosecuting the defendants because they don’t like the government,” Barrow said. “In Ammon Bundy’s words, ‘This was much more than a protest.’ They were taking a ‘hard stand.’ ”

One of Ammon Bundy’s attorney’s, however, laid out a competing argument to justify his clients actions:

Marcus Mumford, a lawyer for Ammon Bundy, told the court that the peaceful demonstration was an effort to draw attention to the federal government’s illegal control and mismanagement of public lands. He said Bundy was attempting to use a provision of the law known as adverse possession to retake land improperly seized by the federal government many decades ago.

“The government has been squatting on this land for years, illegally and contrary to how (the U.S.) Congress intended,” Mumford said in a telephone interview on Monday.

We’ll be checking in all week, in between restocking the Balloon Juice Bunker – just in case… Those of you readers in NY and Ohio that are on LAO and Bella Q watch – please confirm receipt of your schedules and acknowledge your shift assignments in the comments!



Bundy Bunch Update: The Pa-Traitor-ating!

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(Worst Episode of Hollywood Squares Ever!)

We have our first capitulation err, um, plea agreement of one of the 26 fine upstanding Patriots charged in the Ammon Bundy led Malheur Federal Wildlife Refuge takeover and occupation. Brian Cavalier (2nd from right, top row), bodyguard for Ammon Bundy and professional tattooist, aka Buddha, aka Booda, aka Booda Belly, and aka The Fluffy Unicorn, now doing business as the Benedict Arnold of the New American Revolution, has reached a plea deal in regard to his charges in Oregon. This agreement does not impact or effect his case pending in Nevada for the Bunkerville Standoff of 2014. Unless, of course, he’s cut a deal in exchange for cooperation. Or has he? Regardless, thanks to JJ McNab’s excellent Twitter feed we can see that the other upstanding Patriots are none too pleased with Boddadict Arnoldbelly’s cutting a deal for a negotiated, reduced sentence.

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And for those who really want to dig in and get their Bundy on, here’s the pdfs of the plea document:

800 — Cavalier Plea Document

And the plea agreement:

799 — Cavalier Plea Agreement