Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ammon Bundy Jury Pool - 90-Plus Potential Jurors Already Eliminated; Evidence discussed

More than 90 potential jurors for the upcoming trial of rancher Ammon Bundy for his alleged role in the 41-day occupation of an Oregon bird sanctuary have been excluded from the jury pool, leaving prosecutors and defense lawyers with about 200 more to assess until 12 are selected to serve on the jury. 1,500 juror questionnaires were sent out and 350 were received back ahead of the Sept. 7 trial. About 25 percent of the people who filled them out were eliminated from the jury pool due to alleged bias or hardship, according to The Oregonian. Bundy, of Emmett, Idaho, will face trial with seven other defendants who wanted the federal government to relinquish control of Western public land and free two imprisoned ranchers. The eight are charged with conspiring to impede Interior Department employees from doing their jobs during the group’s bird sanctuary occupation. Some of those excluded wrote on their questionnaires that they thought Bundy and the others were guilty, while one wrote of thinking about “joining them … or a state or national militia group.” Besides jury selection, Monday also included the first of what are expected to be days of pretrial conferences to determine what evidence will be allowed. Prosecutors said they plan to call seven Interior Department employees to testify. Defense lawyers argued that prosecutors should not be allowed to discuss an April 2014 armed standoff between Bundy followers and federal officers over grazing rights on public land near Ammon Bundy’s father’s ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada. In the Oregon case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel defended being allowed to introduce evidence about the Bunkerville standoff, saying details would provide the jury with context about why the Bundy brothers and their co-defendants took over the Oregon refuge. Prosecutors plan to use statements from defendant Pete Santilli referring to the Oregon refuge occupation as “another Bunkerville,” Gabriel said. Defense attorney Matthew Schindler argued that the Bunkerville standoff should not be mentioned and that hundreds of prosecution exhibits on guns and ammunition should be reduced to weapon exhibits that can be tied to each defendant...more

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