Burns Chronicles No 57
Collusion or Conspiracy?
Outpost of Freedom
February 4, 2017
On October 27, 2016, shortly after the very just verdict of “Not Guilty” was announced in the Ammon Bundy, et al, Group 1 trial, a meeting was held in the Mark O. Hatfield Federal District Courthouse. The 12 jurors, Judge Anna Brown, and a court reporter, attended the meeting. It lasted about one and a half hours.
It is my understanding that such a meeting is not unusual. However, circumstances surrounding this particular meeting are, to say the least, quite unusual, considering context. That is exactly what we are going to do.
The first irregularity occurred when the Prosecutor moved to have the trial declared “complex”, which allowed the Court to circumvent the right to a speedy trial and to break the defendants up into two groups. The first Group (mostly leaders) was tried in September and October 2016, and the second Group to be tried beginning in February 2017. While the delayed trial date was agreeable, as the Defendants needed the additional time to prepare their defense, one drawback is that many of the Defendants were held in custody until the verdict was reached, in the first trial. The latter trial date made the government’s case easier, as they had smaller groups to try, and it gave time to elicit plea bargains, thereby reducing the number who would be prosecuted at trial.
Next, during the pre-trial “paper chase”, with hundreds of motions filed, answered, and finally ruled on, there is no doubt that bias existed on the part of Judge Anna Brown. Behind the scenes, many of us followed this legal maneuvering for months. It seemed that even when the arguments presented by the defense were well supported, Judge Brown would still rule against the defense and in favor the Prosecution.
During the trial, there were rather strict rules imposed on the defense, especially when they sought to call additional witnesses to testify. Judge Brown ruled that to allow that would be “repetitive”. However, the prosecution showed a 1-minute video of approximately twenty of the occupiers firing across a canal. The fact that the Prosecution showed that footage four times, however, was not considered “repetitive”.
Finally, and here we get to the meeting, Judge Brown called all of the participating jurors into the meeting, after dismissing the alternate jurors. In that meeting, she explained that she would answer their questions, if they had any. She also asks some questions, and explained that the answers would help the prosecution and the defense. So, just how could it help the defense? The Defense prevailed. It could only help the Prosecution gain insight into the jurors’ minds in order to determine what they would need to overcome to obtain guilty verdicts in the Group 2 trial.
Some jurors indicated that had the charges been less serious, like simple “misdemeanor trespass”, it would have been much easier to render a guilty verdict.
Let me interrupt, for a moment, and point out that the Judge holds office under Article III (Judicial Branch of Government), and is, in essence, an impartial referee. Her job is to “administer law in a court of justice”, “to control the proceedings”, and to make “decisions of questions of law or discretion”. Her job is not to favor one side over the other, but rather to stand aside, interjecting only to the extent necessary to assure a fair trial.