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Thursday, September 8, 2016
Judge Reportedly Will Misinform Jurors in Bundy Trial
Judge Will Reportedly Misinform
in the Trial of Ammon Bundy and Six
We have quite a bit of jury-related news
regarding the trial of Ammon Bundy and six other defendants that has gotten
under way this week in Oregon.
News sources are confirming what I heard
from an observer from courtroom: the judge in the case is reportedly planning to
misinform jurors regarding their right of jury nullification.
"The judge also said she intends to question each
juror on whether they were handed a flier outside court about jury
nullification, and to instruct them that they must follow the law even if they
disagree with it. Judge Brown said deputy U.S. marshals indicated there may be
people outside court distributing such fliers.
Ryan Bundy and Ammon Bundy's lawyer Marcus
Mumford objected to the judge's proposed instructions to prospective jurors.
Ryan Bundy argued that they will "rob a juror" of the right to serve as a "check
and balance'' on the federal government's power."
I understand from
a courtroom observer that jury instructions were argued for approximately an
hour to an hour and a half. In the event that there is an appeal after this
trial is over, this issue may be ripe for litigation.
Despite the judge's stated plan to try and keep
jurors in the dark about their right of jury nullification, on the first day of
jury selection, defendant Ken Medenbach appeared in court wearing a shirt that
the judge apparently did not become aware of until late in the day. As shown in
the photograph above, the shirt displays a quote from the case of U.S. v.
Dougherty on the back. The famous John Jay quote from Georgia
v. Brailsford (1794) appears on the front.
After becoming aware of the shirt yesterday
afternoon, the judge apparently sent the following letter to Mr.
We also have some news for you on
the jury selection process. On the first day of jury selection, the judge
dismissed 11 out of 31 potential jurors:
Clicking through to the above article will lead
you to all the gory details including:
dismissal of one potential juror who would not agree to follow the law
blindly if he disagreed with it,
questioning of jurors
to ensure that they would all ignore "pangs
of conscience" if they found that they disagreed with the law, and
questioning of jurors
to determine if anyone had received jury nullification information outside the
As frequently happens when high profile
cases involving substantial disagreement come up, I am aware that there are many
people who have opinions for and against the defendants. There is a larger point
here that is independent of any particular case, charge, defendant, or what we
might think of any of those:
every case, ALL defendants
have a right to a fair trial before a fully informed jury, who can then decide based on the facts, the law, and
their consciences how best to vote in order to ensure a just
To stack the jury with people who will ignore their consciences on command
and to instruct the jury falsely they are required to uphold the law as the
judge instructs them amounts to de facto jury tampering under color of law. This
undermines the fundamental purpose of trial by jury, which is to be an
independent body empowered judge both the facts and law, and to stand as a
protective bulwark shielding individuals and our rights against
For Liberty, Justice, and Peace in Our
Kirsten C. Tynan