Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Star turn for 'relentlessly mundane' prosecutor

The two lead lawyers in the trial of the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge could not be more different. On one side is standoff leader Ammon Bundy's attorney, Marcus Mumford, who has tussled with the judge, asked inappropriate questions and been threatened with being held in contempt. Short and stocky and speaking with a severe stutter, he also frequently wears cowboy boots and rumpled suits in court. On the other is prosecutor Ethan Knight. Tall and lean, the assistant U.S. attorney is partial to Brooks Brothers suits and pocket squares. He speaks with a commanding and clear voice — "almost like he's yelling at someone who is deaf," one former boss said — and is known for being ethical and hardworking. And as the jury deliberates in the trial of seven occupiers who are charged with conspiring to impede federal officials during the 41-day standoff last winter, Knight is poised to secure convictions in two of the highest-profile cases in Portland, Ore.'s history. In 2013, he led the prosecution of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-American who was convicted of trying to detonate a car bomb during Portland's 2010 holiday tree-lighting ceremony. That case and the Malheur trial have established Knight as a rising legal star in Oregon at the age of 42, said Tung Yin, a Lewis & Clark Law School professor who knows Knight. "The fact that they've put him as the lead prosecutor on the two most noteworthy cases since I've been here in Oregon suggests he's seen as the go-to guy in complex terrorism cases," Yin said. Knight, according to his former bosses and colleagues, seems to have been born to be a federal prosecutor. Knight attended Duke University and then the University of Oregon School of Law, where he was a moot court champion. He delivered a commencement address on civility in law and society. Amanda Marshall, who was Knight's boss as a former U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, said she judged him during those early competitions. He even stood out then, she said. "He was one of those guys that as a college debater, you could tell this kid is super bright," Marshall said...more

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