Thursday, October 08, 2015

Federal judge returns ranchers to prison in fire case

An Eastern Oregon rancher and his adult son on Wednesday finally got the prison sentences they deserve — according to the law — for deliberately setting fires that spread from their property onto federal land. Dwight Hammond Jr., 73, and Steven Hammond, 46, were each sentenced to mandatory minimum sentences of five years, in proceedings scheduled after a federal appeals court ruled that a judge in Eugene had disregarded the law and let the ranchers off too lightly during their original sentencing hearing three years ago. Now-retired U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan in 2012 sentenced Steven Hammond to one year and a day in prison for setting intentional fires in 2001 and 2006, and ordered Dwight Hammond to spend three months behind bars for his involvement in the 2001 blaze, which burned in the Steens Mountain federal management and protection area. Hogan, who retired the day after the hearing, said at the time that the mandatory minimum five-year sentences represented “grossly disproportionate” punishment for the crimes. The government appealed Hogan’s decision, and a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that Hogan had illegally sentenced the Hammonds to terms below the mandatory minimum. The Harney County ranchers already have served the sentences imposed by Hogan, and will receive credit for that time when they return to prison. Nearly 20 friends and relatives of the Hammonds attended Wednesday’s sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Eugene. District Judge Ann Aiken imposed the mandatory minimum sentences and explained to those in attendance that the hearing was required after the appeals court “sent it back for the (district) court to follow the law.” A federal jury in Pendleton found the Hammond ranchers guilty of using fire to damage and destroy federal property, after a two-week trial in June 2012...more

For more background on this case, see this and this.

Surely then, when the federales set burns on federal property that damages private lands, they will go to jail too, right?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Remember the last Los Alamos fire? It was set by the National Park Service. Who went to jail? NOBODY!