Editorial – Jurors not buying into prosecutors’ conspiracy theories

by Thomas Mitchell

An agreement between two or more persons to engage jointly in an unlawfulor criminal act, or an act that is innocent in itself but becomes unlawful whendone by the combination of actors. — Legal definition of conspiracy

The feds have a poor batting average of late in proving conspiracy.

In the first trial of two Bunkerville Bundy brothers and others accused of conspiring to illegally occupy a wildlife refuge in Oregon to protest the sentences for father and son ranchers for setting fires, the jury acquitted them all.

In a second trial of four others in the refuge takeover, only two were convicted of conspiracy.

Now, a Las Vegas jury hearing the case against six men accused of conspiracy for showing up armed to protest the behavior of federal land agents rounding up Cliven Bundy’s cattle in April 2014 has refused to convict any of them of the charge of conspiracy. Two men were convicted of other charges and the jury hung on the other four. The judge declared a mistrial.

It took six days for the jurors in the Bunkerville standoff trial to declare themselves hung.

It took six hours for the Oregon jurors to acquit in the first trial there.

According to Oregonlive, the jurors “decided the government hadn’t proven that protesters deliberately conspired to stop federal employees from carrying out their duties through intimidation, threat or force.”

The jurors apparently believed they each acted on their own accord, spontaneously showing up. “The jury kept looking for evidence of an agreement between two or more people to interfere with federal workers at the refuge and found none, said Juror 4, a Marylhurst University business administration student and the only one to speak publicly about the decision,” the news website states.

After the mistrial in Las Vegas the judge set a retrial of those six for June 26, the same date Cliven Bundy and four sons and others were scheduled to be tried for their roles in the Bunkerville cattle roundup protest. Presumably this pushes the Bundy family trial trial further into the year. Their trial was supposed to start 30 days after the first trial but the judge set June 26 at the request of prosecutors.

Cliven Bundy’s attorney already has accused the judge of violating his constitutional right to a speedy trial due to the June 26 date. Bundy has been jailed since February 2015.

Might the prosecutors be contemplating a superseding indictment without all those conspiracy charges?

Bundy family members read Monday’s jury decisions outside the federal courthouse in Las Vegas. (R-J pix)

 

Posted in BLM, Bundy Ranch, Court, Editorial, Thomas Mitchell.

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