Judge skeptical refuge occupier Jason Patrick would follow release conditions if let out of jail

Jason Patrick,
Members of the Idaho 3% arrived at the Harney County Courthouse on Saturday afternoon. After talking with local law enforcement officers and local citizens, the group’s president, Brandon Curtiss, and several other members met with Sheriff Dave Ward outside of the courthouse, where they discussed the “articles of resolution” that they had presented. Jason Patrick, left. Dave Killen/Staff

BY MAXINE BERNSTEIN The Oregonian/OregonLive June 16, 2017

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown said she was struggling to find “clear and convincing” evidence that Oregon refuge occupier Jason Patrick would follow court-imposed conditions if released from custody before sentencing.

Though prosecutors’ did not object to Patrick’s motion for release Friday, Brown said she was troubled by his past record: Patrick’s “insolent and disrespectful” behavior in court during trial, the three times he was late and then spoke back to the judge at trial, his difficulty gaining entry to the courthouse because of his lack of any personal photo ID, his prior pronouncement that he would rather sit in jail than wear a electronic anklet for GPS monitoring, and his underlying federal conspiracy conviction.

“This is a man who does not respect the authority of the United States courts or federal law generally,” Brown said. “This is a man who chooses which rules he wants to follow.”

Patrick, 45, was convicted this year of federal conspiracy to impede federal workers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge through intimidation, threat or force during a 41-day occupation of the federal wildlife sanctuary last year. He also was convicted of misdemeanors, including trespass, tampering with vehicles and equipment and destruction of property.

Patrick’s lawyer Andrew Kohlmetz argued that Patrick, despite his “annoyances,” has never missed a court appearance and never posed a danger to anyone while he was out of custody before or during his trial.

If Patrick is going to be kept in custody because of his behavior at trial, Kohlmetz quipped that then “Marcus Mumford should be held in custody,” referring to Ammon Bundy’s lawyer who is facing a proposed civil sanction that could prevent him from practicing in federal court in Oregon again, based on his behavior during his client’s trial last fall.

Patrick remained in custody from Jan. 27, 2016, when he was arrested outside the refuge, through July 11, 2016, when U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones released him with conditions, pending trial.

He returned to jail March 21 of this year, when he stunned some in Brown’s courtroom and offered to be taken into custody right then instead of having to wear an electronic anklet for GPS monitoring as requested then by a pretrial services officer.

“What is different?” the judge questioned Friday.

Patrick would now abide by GPS monitoring and a home detention requirement to live at his mother’s home in Washington state, his lawyer said. Patrick also would prefer to attend and help his lawyer prepare for the anticipated hearing this fall on restitution payments for damage done at the refuge.

In late March, pretrial services officer Nick Nischik requested the GPS monitoring and home detention conditions be added for Patrick. He argued that Patrick had been difficult to contact pending trial because he had no stable residence, has remained unemployed for close to a year despite a pretrial condition that he find work, and hadn’t resolved a pending charge in Georgia.

Brown said she doubted Patrick, who won’t carry an identification card, could even get a job. Patrick, seated beside his lawyer, made a face, turned to his supporters attending the hearing and smiled.

The judge turned to Nischik for his input on Friday. Nischik said Patrick changed rooms at the Beaverton hotel where he was staying during trial, without notifying him. That amounted to a violation of his release condition, Nischik said.

Patrick, wearing standard blue jail scrubs and sporting a jail hair cut, stood briefly before the judge. He said he’d comply with the conditions set. He added that  he was never told by his pretrial supervision officers that switching rooms in the hotel where he was placed was a violation.

Nischik quickly countered that Patrick, in fact, was told before the March 21 hearing that switching hotel rooms was not acceptable.

Though Nischik said the stringent release conditions set for Patrick normally would ensure someone complies, “our confidence level is not extremely high that he will follow them.”

The judge said she would take the matter under consideration and issue a ruling. By 5 p.m. Friday, no ruling had been filed in court.

Posted in Court, Maulher, The Oregonian.

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