Thursday, February 04, 2016

Federal grand jury returns indictments against Bundys and co-defendants

A federal grand jury Wednesday issued indictments against Ammon Bundy, his brother and at least nine other co-defendants arrested last week in the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside of Burns. A scheduled preliminary hearing was canceled as a result. Yet the defense lawyers in the case showed up, demanded immediate copies of the indictments and questioned why their clients weren't allowed to be in court. Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoff Barrow said the indictments were returned earlier in the day and he would move to unseal them in less than 24 hours. Oregon federal public defender Lisa Hay — who represents Ryan Payne, one of the occupation leaders — objected to keeping the indictments secret and the court's unilateral decision not to bring the defendants to the courtroom. Hay said she headed to the courthouse expecting to see her client. She said she believes the federal government told the U.S. Marshals Service a day earlier not to transport the defendants from jail to court before prosecutors had an indictment in hand. "It makes a mockery of the grand jury process to alert marshals ahead of time,'' Hay argued. Mike Arnold, attorney for key occupation figure Ammon Bundy, asked that his client be present for all court hearings. Amy Baggio, an attorney for accused co-conspirator Joseph O'Shaughnessy, cited Rule 6 of the federal rules of criminal procedure, arguing that it doesn't allow the government to keep the indictment under seal for 24 hours and urged immediate disclosure. U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart told the defense lawyers that they'd get the indictments in due time. "When an indictment is returned, a defendant no longer has a right to the preliminary hearing,'' the judge said. "No need for your client to appear.'' The indictments hadn't been released by late afternoon Wednesday, but they're likely to add charges. Those could include trespassing on federal property, destruction of federal property, unlawful access to federal computers and possession of firearms on a federal facility, according to legal observers...more

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