By Maxine Bernstein | The Oregonian/OregonLive | April 12, 2017 at 12:57 PM
Attorney Marcus Mumford, who last month had criminal charges dismissed against him stemming from his arrest on the day his client Ammon Bundy was acquitted of conspiracy in federal court in Portland, now faces more legal challenges.
Oregon’s Chief U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman is seeking to revoke Mumford’s ability to practice law in any federal court in the District of Oregon, a rare move.
The judge has given Mumford until May 4 to argue in writing why he should not impose such a sanction.
Court document: U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman’s order
In a court filing Wednesday, Mosman cited Mumford’s repeated failures or refusals to observe court rulings in the Bundy trial last fall, repeated instances of Mumford arguing with the judge with a raised voice and sometimes in the jury’s presence, inappropriate commentary on a witness in the presence of a jury, his arguing for Bundy’s release from trial after his acquittal “without a good-faith basis to believe that the pre-existing custody order” from Nevada was not still in effect and his yelling at the court when he objected to the trial judge’s rulings.
Bundy was transferred to a Nevada jail after his acquittal in Oregon. He awaits trial there on federal charges stemming from the 2014 armed standoff with federal land officers near his father Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada.
Mosman also alleged that Mumford failed to timely disclose to the trial judge that Rick Koerber, who served as part of Bundy’s defense team, was also a client of Mumford’s in an unrelated, criminal proceeding. In 2014, a federal judge in Utah tossed out 18 charges against Koerber that had alleged he operated a giant Ponzi scheme through his real estate company, but Koerber was recently re-indicted on 18 charges in January.
The judge filed 25 exhibits with his order, mostly transcripts from Bundy’s trial to support his move to revoke Mumford’s admission to practice in federal court in Oregon.
“My initial reaction is ‘the Empire strikes back,’ ” Mumford said in an email Wednesday. “I know of no court order that I violated, and no reason to impose some kind of lifetime ban to practice law in Oregon.”
Mumford was arrested on the last day of Bundy’s trial after verdicts were announced in court.
U.S . Marshals tackled Mumford to the floor, stunned him with a Taser gun and arrested him after he had repeatedly questioned the court about what authority the marshals had to keep Bundy in custody after his acquittal in the federal conspiracy case stemming from the armed takeover the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Mumford was charged with failing to comply with official signs that prohibit the disruption of federal officers’ official work and 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.
Mumford’s lawyer Michael Levine had argued repeatedly that the deputy U.S. marshals engaged in “outrageous” misconduct, and requested any emails or text messages between marshals about Mumford as part of discovery in preparation for trial.
In mid-March, a specially-assigned federal judge from Washington dismissed all criminal charges against Mumford at the prosecution’s request.
Mumford also came under scrutiny during the five-week trial in U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown’s court. During trial, she had threatened to find Mumford in contempt of court but never followed through.
Brown’s admonition to Mumford in late September came after she said Mumford appeared to be defying her order not to delve into the circumstances surrounding the police fatal shooting of refuge occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum. Brown also had repeatedly ordered Mumford during trial to restrict his questions during cross-examination to the testimony elicited during prosecutors’ direct examination of witnesses. The trial judge also frequently sustained prosecutors’ objections to Mumford’s lines of questioning because they were either irrelevant or “beyond the scope” of the direct testimony.
If Mosman does revoke Mumford’s ability to practice in any Oregon federal court, the judge will disclose the sanction to any state bar under which Mumford currently practices law, and Mumford will be required to disclose such a sanction when applying to practice in any federal court in the future.
“For Judge Mosman to be the one who issues this order is especially disappointing because I specifically asked him to intercede on my behalf as a voice of reason in dealing with the marshals’ misbegotten prosecution, but he responded to say that he was recusing himself. It’s as if he’s now saying his recusals are selective,” Mumford wrote in his email.
— Maxine Bernstein