Sunday, February 07, 2016

Ethical Questions Surround Ammon Bundy’s Legal Team, Strategy

While Ammon Bundy was teaching others about his interpretation of the Constitution, lawyers were schooling him about potential violations of federal laws as the militant leader led the occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. On Jan. 9, Lissa Casey of the Arnold Law Firm tweeted that she and Brian Boender, a fellow attorney from the Eugene Based Arnold Law Firm, met with some “very nice men” at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. On Jan. 14, Ammon Bundy confirmed he met with lawyers over the previous weekend; however, he didn’t name them. “I did, and they had their suggestions, but look, we’re not breaking any laws,” Bundy said. “They made a list and shared it with us and we’ll keep that in mind, but again, the federal government has no authority on this land.” Federal government officials disagree, and indicted Ammon Bundy along with fifteen others for keeping federal employees from “discharging their duties.” To defend him against those charges, Bundy retained the Arnold Law Firm. That retention could potentially be a violation of Oregon State Bar guidelines. Lissa Casey and Mike Arnold, the head of the Arnold Law Firm, confirmed that Ammon Bundy did not contact the firm, but rather attorneys for the firm went to meet the militants face-to-face. “I felt duty-bound to give pro bono [emphasis: Casey’s] advice to the protesters out there given that they were practicing civil disobedience and didn’t appear to have any legal counsel,” Casey told OPB in a written statement. That action could potentially violate Oregon bar rules, specifically, section 7.3. Portland criminal attorney Janet Hoffman said that the rule prohibits attorneys from soliciting clients by phone, electronic contact or in person. The rule specifically prohibits solicitation if one of the driving motivations for the attorney is financial gain. In an email to OPB, Casey repeatedly emphasized that any legal advice given to Bundy and other militants was offered pro bono. But now that an indictment has been issued against Bundy and 15 others, Casey said the firm is charging for its services. “We expect the litigation to be rather lengthy and expensive so he asked us to set him up with the crowd sourcing page to assist in raising funds,” Casey wrote. As of Friday, Feb. 5, that page had raised about $27,000 of its $100,000 goal...more

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