Judge was rude, security over the top in Oregon occupation trial, defense lawyers say

Utah lawyer Marcus Mumford this week submitted sworn statements from fellow defense attorneys in last year's Oregon refuge trial in his challenge of a federal judge's push to bar him from practicing law in any federal court in Oregon.

Utah lawyer Marcus Mumford this week submitted sworn statements from fellow defense attorneys in last year’s Oregon refuge trial in his challenge of a federal judge’s push to bar him from practicing law in any federal court in Oregon.(The Oregonian/OregonLive)

By Maxine Bernstein   The Oregonian/OregonLive

Several defense attorneys from the first Oregon refuge occupation trial have written memos supporting Ammon Bundy’s lawyer in his fight with the federal court over his behavior during and at the end of the trial when he was tackled by federal marshals and stunned with a Taser.

The attorneys praised Marcus Mumford for his demeanor, said he didn’t have enough time to prepare for the trial but was a zealous advocate for his client. Some wrote that U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown was especially tough on Mumford, and there was longstanding animosity between Mumford and the marshals before the physical confrontation.

Mumford faced criminal charges after deputy marshals tackled him in the courtroom and took him into custody following the announcement of not guilty verdicts on Oct. 27, 2016, but prosecutors later dropped them. Mumford had shouted at the judge, argued for Ammon Bundy’s release and demanded to see a detention order from Nevada.

Now Mumford is challenging an effort by the chief U.S. District judge for Oregon, Michael W. Mosman, to bar him from practicing law in Oregon’s federal courts. Mumford is from Utah.

This week, Mumford filed in court sworn declarations from his fellow defense attorneys. Some argued that the intense security during the trial last fall in Portland was overblown. One called the physical restraint of Mumford an “appalling overreaction.” Several wrote of a perceived animosity between Mumford and the marshals throughout the case.

They described a lunch break in the middle of the trial when one deputy marshal told the defense lawyers and their clients that their time was up for conferring together.

Mumford said something like, “Just five more minutes, guys.” Another deputy marshal apparently charged toward Mumford and “dressed him down for ‘disrespecting’ another deputy,” according to the defense lawyers’ statements.

Amanda B. Mendenhall, an associate in Mumford’s law firm who helped him during most of the trial, said she stood between the deputy marshal and Mumford that afternoon. She wrote that she believed “the marshals had been gunning for Marcus for some time.”

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Mumford, a Utah lawyer who represented Ammon Bundy in the refuge takeover case last year, also questioned whether the timing of the judge’s action was intended to prevent him from continuing to represent Bundy as he’s set to go on trial in Nevada this week.

Several defense lawyers, as well as Mumford, surmised that the government suddenly dismissed the criminal charges against him after Mumford’s lawyer asked for all texts and email messages between the marshals during the Bundy trial and likely found “unprofessional and embarrassing communications.”

Defense lawyer Matthew Schindler, who represented defendant Kenneth Medenbach, said he believed Mumford didn’t have enough time to prepare for the occupation trial, having been appointed less than four months before. Schindler wrote that he never met a criminal defense attorney “more committed to providing his client zealous advocacy in the face of seemingly impossible odds and an antagonistic federal judge.”

Mumford sometimes didn’t sleep to prepare for trial. Schindler said it appeared Mumford “occasionally experienced difficulty in tracking and following the court’s rulings during the extended trial,” and blamed the lack of time he had to prepare and unfamiliarity with the judge and local practice.

“The court put him in this position unfairly and is now trying to punish him for it,” Schindler wrote.

Schindler further criticized Brown, and said nothing Mumford did before her was any different than what Schindler has done before her in court. Schindler also was an aggressive advocate for his client, and several times, was told by the judge to sit down.

“While well versed in the law, she is consistently rude and demeaning counsel of both sides in front of the jury,” he wrote of Brown. “Nothing about Mr. Mumford’s attitude and demeanor diverged from the kind of attitude and demeanor I have displayed repeatedly before this same court without consequence.”

Defense lawyer Lisa Ludwig, standby counsel for Ryan Bundy, said Mumford was
“professional even when zealous” and effective in the courtroom.

“He appeared to compensate for small physical size and a debilitating speech impediment with a certain assertive style, but he was lawyerly at every turn,” Ludwig wrote. “He was at times emotional about his case, but never physical.”

Mumford’s client, Ammon Bundy, and six co-defendants were acquitted in October 2016 of federal conspiracy, weapons and other charges stemming from the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge early that year.

Read the attorneys’ statements below:

Attorney Lisa Ludwig, standby lawyer for Ryan Bundy


Attorney Per C. Olson, who represented David Fry


Attorney Robert Salisbury, who represented Jeff Banta


Attorney Matthew Schindler, who represented Kenneth Medenbach


Amanda B. Mendenhall, associate in Mumford’s law firm


— Maxine Bernstein


Posted in Ammon Bundy, Court, Marus Mumford, Maulher, News.

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