The Oregonian/OregonLive - 01-06-2017
Marcus Mumford, Ammon Bundy's lawyer who U.S. marshals tackled and stunned with a Taser gun in federal court on the day his client was acquitted, returned to the same courtroom Friday to appear in his own criminal case.
His attorney, Michael Levine, entered a not guilty plea on Mumford's behalf to charges of failing to comply with the lawful direction of a federal police officer and impeding or disrupting official government duties, both misdemeanors. The maximum penalty for each offense is 30 days in custody and a $5,000 fine.
Mumford was arrested Oct. 27 shortly after the judge announced the jury's verdict acquitting Bundy and six co-defendants of conspiring to stop federal employees from doing their work at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Bundy and armed followers took over the refuge Jan. 2, 2016.
Deputy marshals tackled Mumford as he questioned the government's authority to continue to hold Bundy on federal charges pending in Nevada and demanded to see paperwork to back it up.
"What happened here is an unprecedented attack on the defense bar,'' Levine said after the brief hearing Friday.
He called the use of a stun gun and Mumford's arrest "outrageous,'' saying Mumford was doing nothing more than engaging in zealous advocacy for his client.
Mumford, 43, flew in from Utah to appear briefly before U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Ohms, both assigned from Washington state after federal judges and prosecutors in Oregon recused themselves from the case.
Oregon's federal public defender Lisa Hay, wearing a "FREE MARCUS MUMFORD'' pin on her blazer, other defense attorneys from the Bundy case and court staff crowded into the courtroom to watch the proceeding.
Hay said she came to show her support for a defense attorney who was "physically assaulted while advocating for his client in the courtroom and not in disobedience of any judicial order.''
Judges can find attorneys or others in contempt of court, but Hay called it an "abuse of power'' for defense lawyers to face physical force from marshals.
None of the marshals who tackled Mumford were in court.
A three-day trial has been set for April 17 and pretrial motions will be heard on Feb. 15. The prosecutor said he might file a criminal information in the case but none has been issued yet.
Mumford is expected to argue that there was a "pattern of overreaction'' by marshals who "initiated conflict unnecessarily'' during the case, according to emails he sent to federal court.
He has requested video surveillance footage of the encounter as well as any video footage of two earlier incidents with marshals in court.
On the day of the Bundy acquittal, Mumford stood before U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown and argued that Bundy should be released from custody immediately.
When Mumford continued to yell and argue after the judge told him that Nevada had an order to hold Bundy, six to seven marshals slowly moved in and surrounded him at his defense table. The judge directed them to move back, but moments later the marshals grabbed Mumford, tackled him and used a Taser on him.
According to a probable cause statement, the marshals said they moved forward to escort Bundy out of the courtroom when Mumford positioned his body to block them and began yelling in protest. When Mumford became more agitated, "flailing his arms and raising his voice even louder,'' and exhibiting "pre-assault indicators,'' they moved in.
Mumford earlier told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the marshals were "just making up facts.'' He said he wanted the marshals or the court to show him the order from Nevada that indicated they had the right to hold Ammon Bundy. Bundy faces charges in Nevada for a 2014 standoff near his father's ranch.
A day after his arrest, Mumford sent an email to three Oregon federal judges -- Brown, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones and Chief Judge Michael W. Mosman -- saying he intended to defend himself against the citation. He also urged the court to investigate the marshals for contempt of court.
Mumford wrote that it was an honor to appear before Brown. He said her "indefatigable effort'' in such a complex case inspired him to try to match such effort on behalf of his client.
After the judge admonished him for raising his voice, Mumford said he leaned into the microphone to further explain his stance. The marshals ignored Brown's direction to them to stand back, he said, and instead grabbed him and used a Taser on him twice after he was on the ground with his hands behind his back.
In other emails to the court, Mumford cited two previous encounters involving U.S. deputy marshals that were inappropriate.
On Oct. 17, during a break in the Bundy trial, defense lawyers and their clients remained in Courtroom 9A to discuss strategy. The marshals "became involved in our joint defense discussion in a way that I did not feel was helpful,'' he wrote. When he pointed that out to them, "they confronted me and began accusing me of 'threatening a U.S. marshal.'"
He also cited an Oct. 7 hearing before Judge Jones, who was reviewing why the marshals ended the practice of allowing Mumford to have contact visits with Bundy and his brother, Ryan Bundy, in the courthouse. Jones admonished one marshal during the hearing to "shut up'' and sit down when he spoke over the judge.
Defense lawyer Matthew Schindler, who represented Kenneth Medenbach during the trial last fall, said he came to court Friday to support his friend. Schindler also said he introduced himself to the federal prosecutor handling the case and volunteered to be interviewed because he said what the marshals wrote in the probable cause statement about what occurred was false.
"To the extent someone says Marcus Mumford took a fighting stance, they're lying. That's a fact,'' Schindler said.
-- Maxine Bernstein