Burns Chronicles No 23
Terrorism Enhanced Penalties v. Due Process
Outpost of Freedom
August 10, 2016
So far, ten of those charged in United States v. Ammon Bundy, et al, have pled guilty, and the eleventh is soon to follow. They are, as follows:
- Jason Blomgren (Joker J), pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.
- Brian Cavalier (Booda), pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge and a charge of possessing firearms or dangerous weapons in a federal facility.
- Blaine Cooper, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.
- Travis Cox, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.
- Eric Flores, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.
- Wesley Kjar, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy
- Corey Lequieu, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.
- Joseph O’Shaughnessy, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy
- Ryan Payne, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.
- Geoffrey Stanek, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.
- Jon Ritzheimer, scheduled to plea
So, why are they pleading? Is it because they really think that they are guilty?
Most, if not all, of those above have been “intimidated” or “threatened“, by federal prosecutors, either directly, or through their appointed counsel, that a Terrorism Enhancement could result in a sentence of 30 years, possibly for each count.
For a little background, over twenty years ago, I reported on a trial (see below) that I would eventually learn to be one where the Federal Sentencing Guidelines had brought into our judicial system something that was very foreign to the system of justice, as implemented by the Founders. Perhaps it would be beneficial to begin with an understanding of the judicial system that was intended, based upon many centuries of evolution in the British Common Law.
The English Constitution, even before the Magna Carta (1215 AD), began evolving in 1080 AD, and was also the beginning of a legal evolutionary process that sometimes went backwards, but most often went forward, in an effort to provide justice rather than blind obedience to laws. It was the English Common Law that was the foundation of jurisprudence for the Founders.
This foundation is evidenced even in current statutes, such as Florida Statutes (2015), where we find:
2.01 Common law and certain statutes declared in force.—The common and statute laws of England which are of a general and not a local nature, with the exception hereinafter mentioned, down to the 4th day of July, 1776, are declared to be of force in this state; provided, the said statutes and common law be not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States and the acts of the Legislature of this state.
We can also look to the Maryland Constitution (2008), which provides, in its Declaration of Rights:
Art. 5. (a)
(1) That the Inhabitants of Maryland are entitled to the Common Law of England, and the trial by Jury, according to the course of that Law, and to the benefit of such of the English statutes as existed on the Fourth day of July, seventeen hundred and seventy-six; and which, by experience, have been found applicable to their local and other circumstances, and have been introduced, used and practiced by the Courts of Law or Equity…
In the same Declaration of Rights, we also find:
Art. 23. In the trial of all criminal cases, the Jury shall be the Judges of Law, as well as of fact, except that the Court may pass upon the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain a conviction.
Now, the Maryland Constitution predates the United States Constitution, as it was first ratified by the People on November 11, 1776 – over a decade before the Constitution. Clearly, the understanding (original intent) of the Maryland Constitution and the United States Constitution were predicated upon those laws that then existed, and definition, or intent, of the words used, were as they were understood at the time. Absent a lawful change of definition, those definitions and intentions are still the body of the law and should be recognized as such.
Also true of the Common Law, at that time, and remember, the intention is still the same, is that a jury determines law and fact. However, there is one more aspect that comes into play. The jury also imposed the sentence, as they were the judge of facts, those which determined the severity of the crime; the law, what was intended and the extent applicable to the case at hand; and, by combining the two, would determine the sentence to be imposed, if the accused were found to be guilty.
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