Saturday, October 29, 2016

U.S. Marshals' tackling of Ammon Bundy's lawyer creates buzz in legal community

When U.S. Marshals physically subdued attorney Marcus Mumford at the finale of the Oregon militants' trial, the encounter created a buzz across the legal community with experts saying they'd never seen anything similar happen before. Marshals tackled and used a Taser on Mumford, Ammon Bundy's defense lawyer, following the Oregon standoff leader's acquittal in the federal conspiracy case Thursday. The agency said in a news release Friday that Mumford had become "upset and aggressive" in court after the jury verdict. The federal agency is conducting a review of the marshals' actions, according to Thadd Baird, supervising deputy of the U.S. Marshals Service. But he declined to discuss any further specifics about the highly unusual use of force. "The overwhelming consensus in legal circles is that any kind of altercation between law enforcement and lawyers in a courtroom is virtually unheard of," said Kateri Walsh, spokeswoman for the Oregon State Bar. "It just doesn't happen." Mumford had been arguing that his client should be released from custody immediately, but U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown said Bundy had a hold on him from a pending federal indictment in Nevada. Mumford yelled at the judge, and suddenly six to seven marshals closed in on him, surrounding the attorney at the defense table. The judge told them to move back, but soon after, the marshals grabbed Mumford. They yelled at Mumford to stop resisting while the judge ordered everyone out of the courtroom. The description of Thursday's events also led other lawyers to question whether the marshals had been too heavy-handed. "My understanding is he just raised his voice," said Carrie Leonetti, a University of Oregon law professor who previously worked as a federal public defender in California. Leonetti said the marshals likely considered the number of people in the courtroom before taking action, but also questioned their using a weapon against the lawyer. "They need to be proportional to the threat," she said. Leonetti said it would be more common for an attorney who wasn't following orders to be held in contempt, not taken down. "I cannot think of a time when courtroom security officers have used force against a lawyer," she said. Leonetti said the marshals' actions have an "unfortunate appearance of retaliation," but she believes their response came from training. "The optics of tackling the lawyer who won – the optics of that are unfortunate in any situation," Leonetti said...more

No comments: