Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Former Federal Prosecutor Lays Out Likely Path For Refuge Trial

Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys on either side of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation may not agree on many details of the case, but both sides readily describe it as complicated and largely unprecedented. A total of 26 defendants are charged in the Oregon case, and several — including occupation leaders Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy and Ryan Payne — also face charges related to a 2014 standoff at the Nevada ranch of Cliven Bundy, the father of Ammon and Ryan Bundy. To better understand what these intertwined cases may look like as they play out in court, OPB’s Think Out Loud spoke Monday to former federal prosecutor Martin Estrada. Estrada said federal prosecutors in Oregon, Nevada and Washington, D.C. are all likely coordinating with each other to avoid jurisdictional infighting that could otherwise slow the cases. Additionally, he said the government’s attorneys will try to negotiate plea deals with refuge occupiers who played a less central role. “From the prosecution’s perspective, I’d think they’d want to have fewer defendants at trial,” Estrada said. “When you have this many defendants, as I mentioned, some of the less culpable defendants … they may get lost in the shuffle, and the jury may not find them responsible for the entire conspiracy.” He added that the government may try to use some of the more serious charges in the case as leverage to get guilty pleas against defendants on a federal conspiracy charge. Estrada said a conspiracy plea may only carry a sentence of two or three years in prison. “I think the likely scenario is, from the government’s perspective, they don’t want a 26-defendant trial. And they certainly don’t want multiple trials,” he said. “They don’t want to have to present this case multiple times.”...more

HT:  Marvin Frisbey 

No comments: