Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Editorial - Cooler heads prevail, finally, in Bundy lawyer taser case

The federal criminal case against Marcus Mumford, the defense attorney who represented Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation leader Ammon Bundy, was one of bad calls.

There was the extraordinarily bad call for U.S. marshals to tackle and tase Mumford as he argued for Bundy's release, shortly after a federal jury had issued the surprising verdict to acquit him and six others of conspiracy charges associated with the takeover. Then federal prosecutors followed that up with misdemeanor charges against Mumford, claiming he failed to comply with the lawful direction of a federal police officer and impeding or disrupting official government duties. The case was proceeding through hearings - including one in which the judge dismissed one of three charges against Mumford - and a date was set for trial.

Finally, however: a good call. As The Oregonian/OregonLive's Maxine Bernstein reported, prosecutors filed a motion this week to dismiss the charges against Mumford. They did not explain why and the move does not prevent them from filing charges in connection with the incident in the future. But perhaps they recognized what a losing proposition it would be to prosecute a lawyer who, according to witnesses in the courtroom, was simply making his case on behalf of his client. That's not a crime. It's what the judicial system is supposed to protect.

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