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A Most Interesting Verdict…

October 27, 2016

Today, October 27, 2016, the jury in the trial of Ammon Bundy and 6 other defendants found them not guilty of conspiracy. Some had also faced charges of theft of government property and possession of firearms at a federal facility. The jury was unable to return a verdict on the charge of theft of government property against Ryan Bundy.

My opinion of the wisdom, or lack thereof, regarding the actions of the Bundys and their associates has not changed. Not only were their actions ill-considered and poorly planned out, as opposed to the actions of America’s Founding Fathers, but they arguably led to the death of one of their own, LaVoy Finicum. Nevertheless, I do applaud the jury’s verdict, especially given the out of proportion response of federal law enforcement. Justified at the time of the shooting or not, there was no reason to do things in such a manner as to lead to Finicum’s death. I lived in Burns, Oregon at one time. They have real winter. Law enforcement could have secured power to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, denied access to any further outsiders and waited out Bundy and his associates. When they were cold and hungry enough, they would have likely come out all on their own. Sadly, that was not to be. I should note I’ve encountered this refusal to wait approach before. When I was in the USCG, we would often work alongside federal civilian law enforcement. Some of the personnel were consummately professional. Others, though, had a “we’re the (insert agency of your choice) and if people don’t comply, we will move against them,” even if a better result could have been achieved with greater patience.

I wasn’t in the courtroom. Neither, most likely, were you. As a result, neither you nor I really know the “feel” of  the trial as evidence was presented. My impression, from the start, was that the government would present a very strong case that would rely heavily upon testimony from confidential informants placed among the group by the FBI and/or other Federal agencies. It would appear that was, indeed, the case. My further impression was that the government would be successful in its prosecution. In that, I was clearly mistaken. What we know is the verdict. What we don’t know is if the jury was simply not convinced by the evidence presented or if this is an example of jury nullification. Either way, verdicts are in and for each of those charges for which the verdict was “not guilty,” there can be no further trial. All in all, though some will no doubt disagree, I’m calling this a win for freedom, albeit a win in a battle that should have never taken place.

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