Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Why Bundy convictions are no slam dunk: unpredictable juries

by Jeremy P. Jacobs

Despite reams of evidence — thousands of social media posts and videos, photos of men with large guns, and the testimony of threatened federal employees — legal experts say jurors still may not convict the armed occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Attorneys who have experience trying cases in Western states have found juries notoriously unpredictable and hard to read in trials involving public lands and property rights.

Westerners generally have greater skepticism of the federal government because of its vast land management responsibilities.

And that, said attorney Karen Budd-Falen, can translate to the jury pool.

"If what you are asking me is if people who live in the West have a different mindset toward the federal government by virtue of the amount of land they have — and they are your landlords — the answer is absolutely yes," said Budd-Falen, a Cheyenne, Wyo.-based attorney who has represented numerous ranchers in cases against the government.

...While relatively little is known about the jury, there are some hints that there may be one or two jurors who could be sympathetic to Bundy's anti-government views. It takes only one holdout to hang a jury, essentially creating a mistrial. And there is the rare possibility that the jury could side with Bundy and his co-defendants even if jurors agree the defendants broke the law — a result known as jury nullification.

In the West, federal prosecutors have a mixed record in these types of trials...

The article also explores the role of race and religion, the importance of the judge's instructions to the jury, and speculates on what may occur in the jury room, including jury nullification.

1 comment:

Dave Pickel said...

Wishful thinking. And furthermore, some folks are partial to the LDS and some ain't.