By Maxine Bernstein | The Oregonian/OregonLive Updated March 13, 2017 at 4:35 PM
Special federal prosecutors assigned to the criminal case against Ammon Bundy’s lawyer filed a motion Monday to dismiss all the charges against Marcus Mumford.
The motion comes more than three weeks after a judge dropped one of three charges against Mumford and ruled that he would decide the remaining two charges after a trial.
It also comes on the first business day after a federal jury in Portland found four remaining defendants guilty on a variety of chargesstemming from the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Special attorneys Timothy J. Ohms and George J.C. Jacobs of Washington state filed the motion in U.S. District Court in Portland, asking a judge to dismiss the criminal information without prejudice. That means the government could file charges in the case in the future.
“I’m thankful the case is being dismissed,” said Mumford’s lawyer, Michael Levine.
He said he didn’t know what prompted the government’s decision. He’s waiting for the judge to sign the dismissal order.
“It’s not over until it’s over,” Levine said.
On Feb. 16, 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. The third count accused Mumford of failing to comply with a federal officer’s direction to stop resisting and to place his hands behind his back.
A trial had been set for April 13.
Coughenour declined to grant Mumford a jury trial, as requested, or his motion to dismiss all the charges.
Mumford’s lawyer has argued repeatedly that the deputy U.S. marshals engaged in “outrageous” 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 at the end of a five-week trial over the armed refuge takeover last winter.
Ohms last month defended the charges, contending Mumford was blocking marshals from taking Bundy back into custody at the end of trial. When Mumford resisted arrest, he was stunned with the Taser, Ohms said.
Coughenour, a judge from the federal Western District of Washington, had been assigned to preside over the case. Trial judge U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown and local prosecutors were recused from it. Brown, her courtroom deputy, law clerk and court reporter could be called as witnesses at trial, Levine had told the court last month.
Coughenour last month had ordered prosecutors to turn over to Mumford’s lawyer any text messages between marshals, federal protective service officers or court security on their government-issued cellphones that revealed “hostility” toward Mumford “or in any way casts doubt on their credibility.” The government also was ordered to turn over information that cast doubt on a witness’ credibility, as required by law.
Levine said he received no explanation from the government of what led to the decision now to dismiss the charges. He wondered if prosecutors had the video of the fracas enhanced, found something in the emails or personnel files of the marshals that would have been problematic for the government or decided Mumford has been through enough already.
Ohms had questions referred to the Eastern District’s Acting U.S. Attorney Joseph Harrington, who declined any comment.
Oregon Federal Public Defender Lisa Hay said she’s very pleased by the government’s decision. She said she hoped that “cooler heads prevailed” once prosecutors closely examined the video and other evidence.
“I”m certain the misunderstanding that resulted in these charges were related to the unusual circumstances of the Bundy case, and won’t be repeated again,” Hay said.
— Maxine Bernstein