Saturday, February 18, 2017

Judge dismisses 1 of 3 charges against Bundy attorney and orders bench trial

A federal judge Thursday dropped one of three criminal charges against Marcus Mumford, Ammon Bundy's lawyer, and ruled he'll issue a verdict on the other two charges, not a jury. U.S District Judge John C. Coughenour dismissed a charge that accused Mumford of creating a disturbance by impeding the official duties of government officers because it encompassed the same conduct alleged in the second count, failing to comply with official signs that prohibit the disruption of federal officers' official work. Coughenour declined to grant Mumford a jury trial, as requested, or his motion to dismiss all the charges. Mumford's lawyer Michael Levine has argued that the deputy U.S. marshals engaged in "outrageous'' government misconduct and lacked authority to wrestle Mumford to the ground and stun him with a Taser gun while he was arguing on behalf of Bundy in a federal courtroom last fall. The scuffle occurred after Bundy was acquitted of all charges on Oct. 27, 2016, at the end of a five-week trial stemming from the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. "Here, the transcript and video footage do not support such a finding,'' the judge wrote. "The U.S. marshals' conduct does not rise to a level that 'shocks the conscience.' '' Coughenour said in his ruling: "It appears from the transcript and the courtroom video that defendant interfered with the marshals taking his client into custody.'' The judge wasn't swayed by Levine's arguments that the marshals didn't have authority to act against Mumford while he was advocating for his client in court or that the charges against him are vague. Coughenour held that Congress authorized the Department of Homeland Security to establish regulations with criminal penalties relating to the protection of federal property similar to powers it has granted to the National Park Service, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. "Defendant was not charged with violating the regulations for making arguments in the courtroom,'' the judge wrote. "At the heart of the allegations is that defendant interfered with the U.S. marshals taking custody of his client. A person of ordinary intelligence would understand that interfering with a U.S. marshal removing a defendant who was in their custody following the completion of court constitutes a disruption of the performance of a marshal's duties.''...more

Coughenour's rulings are here and here

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