Saturday, January 28, 2017

Misdemeanor charges against second round of Oregon standoff defendants will go before a judge, not jury

The misdemeanor charges filed against the second round of Oregon standoff defendants will be tried before a judge. Because the charges of trespass, tampering with vehicles or equipment and destruction of property are Class B misdemeanors and considered petty offenses, the defendants don't have a right to a jury trial, U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown ruled. The judge also cited the "significant uncertainty in the law'' as to whether she has discretion to allow a jury trial for such offenses. "Simply put, the Court declines to exercise discretion to take an action when it is not at all clear that the Court has such discretion in the first place,'' Brown wrote in her ruling Thursday. "The Court notes Congress explicitly intended the trial of petty offenses to be tried to the court, and expressly permitted magistrate judges to conduct such trials in order to facilitate their efficient resolution without the process associated with a jury trial,'' Brown wrote. Brown said she plans to hear evidence on the misdemeanor charges filed against the seven as a jury hears evidence on their felony conspiracy and weapons charges. If there's additional evidence on the misdemeanor charges, the judge will hear it while the jury deliberates on the felonies, Brown said. Defense lawyers have indicated that they'd ask a federal magistrate judge instead to hear the misdemeanor charges because that's the typical procedure for such offenses, said attorney Jesse Merrithew, who represents Jake Ryan. Brown suggested that would be a waste of resources. Defendants and their lawyers were dismayed by the ruling. Andrew Kohlmetz, standby lawyer for defendant Jason Patrick, said, "It's very important for Mr. Patrick to have a jury of his peers make those decisions. He's frankly not happy.'' Matthew McHenry, who represents defendant Sean Anderson, argued in court papers that a jury verdict that "reflects the judgment of the public and the defendants' peers'' would provide a "more satisfactory and acceptable resolution'' to defendants and the public...more

Is the government's real intent to facilitate "efficient resolution", or is to avoid a jury of local citizens? 

Mathew McHenry, one of the defense attorneys, thinks it its the latter:

"Finally, the defendants believe the government's strong desire for a bench trial stems in large part from the jury acquittals in the first trial. The government should not be aided by this Court as it attempts to take this case out of the hands of a jury of the defendants' peers,'' McHenry wrote.

In another ruling on the same day, Judge Brown said she would not allow evidence of the acquittals to be presented in the second trial: 

"Admitting evidence related to the verdicts following the September 7, 2016, trial would be confusing and necessarily would require the jury to consider (and likely to guess) which evidence or aspect of the government's case the jury in the prior trial found insufficient," Brown wrote. 

These average citizens would be "confused" and might start "guessing" about the evidence, so we'll not let these ignorant Oregon hicks have a say. No, we'll let the all-knowing, august court, where you can't wear cowboy boots and they tackle and taser defense attorneys, be the final arbiter. Only then can justice be done.

Bottome line: The federal prosecutors requested two things from the judge and they got both of them.


Anonymous said...

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution states that the accused have a right to a trial by jury. And not allowing facts from the previous trial to be admissible sounds like a Kangaroo Court to me. The Feds circle the wagons against the citizens.

And Hillary has never been indicted.

Anonymous said...

Those Rules of Procedure books that sit on a judges desk can by-pass the Constitution, even a states own good laws by just ignoring them. Thousands of pages of fine print. Rules for civil, criminal, and different courts......lots of reading, dotting i's, crossing t's, font size, spacing. Almost all lawyers/judges have a different mindset, not normal, not Constitutional. I wouldn't want my fate decided by a single person whether it was civil, misdemeanor, or felony.
Who picked the judge? Was it the same governor that ordered the state police to end it? Appointed by a democrat-progressive, republican or what? Who did they vote for? Politics always matters.

wolfcrossing said...

This is just what the federal government does, the intent of the judge at this point is to simply wear out the defendants to keep them in court for ever, never allow them the benefit of presumption of innocence and completely break them and their families. Judges like this need replacing.