Following Torture of Ammon Bundy, Attorney Chides Court Over Speedy Trial Violations
Following the abuse and torture of Ammon Bundy at the Southern Nevada Detention Center last week and the declaration of a mistrial by Judge Gloria Navarro in the first round of six defendants in the Bundy Ranch trials, the attorney for reporter and political prisoner Pete Santilli filed a blistering reply to the government’s response to Santilli’s motion to consolidate, and called on the court to not continue to violate the speedy trial rights of his client.
According to the motion, which was filed on Tuesday, attorney Chris Rasmussen, Esq. wrote, “The Government is requesting that the first group of defendants be retried on June 26, 2017. As this Court is aware, the jury was deadlocked on 50 counts, but appeared to have found the defendants not guilty on the conspiracy counts as they had indicated on the verdict form. Apparently, there was some confusion with the instructions and they scratched out their intent to acquit on the conspiracy counts.”
Rasmussen is referring to the verdict forms here.
“The Court is aware of the speedy trial arguments that all of the defendants have repeatedly made as they have all been in custody without bail for over a year,” Rasmussen continued. “Santilli also has repeatedly argued that his trial be held immediately. Santilli understood that his trial would be delayed, so that the prior trial could be held with his immediately following a 30 day break. Now, the Government wants to push Santilli into September or October in their zealous attempt to once again present the notion that there was a conspiracy between the indicted and unindicted protestors during the Bundy Ranch incident in April 2014.”
While the government argued that they could retry the defendants in the first round more quickly, Rasmussen was not buying their argument, which alluded to a judicial economy, and further said it did nothing to protect the rights of his client to have a speedy trial. While he conceded that in every other case in the history of the District, the government’s response would be “reasonable,” he put forth five things that made this case “unique” to all the others.
- We had 17 defendants arrested in this indictment, detained pending trial and have consistently and unanimously demanded a speedy trial;
- The Court was forced into a position to choose which defendants would be tried first, second and third. an Order detailing the trial lineup was issued requiring Santilli to be tried 30 days after the first group.
- The first trial jury denied the Government’s theory that there was a conspiracy and a “massive armed assault” against the BLM.
- The Government has taken tremendous steps to hide the Special Agent in Charge Daniel P. Love from the jury, as it became apparent that he had been reprimanded for threatening other employees of the Bureau of Land Management to manipulate their anticipated testimony about his misconduct;
- The events in April 2014 are so polarizing in the community as some may see either side at fault increasing the likelihood of deadlocked juries.
Rasmussen then went on to point out the protestors were armed, and photographic and video evidence was presented to the jury showing at least one protestor with his rifle wedged between a slot in concrete barriers. Yet, that did not convince the jury to convict.
Mr. Rasmussen then set his sights on Daniel P. Love.
“The Government’s response makes it clear they do not want Santilli at their retrial,” he wrote. “Santilli had face to face contact with Daniel P. Love, which would make it more difficult to keep Love hidden in a trial with Santilli present as alleged in Count Seven of the Indictment.”
“Santilli is alleged to have had a big mouth and a live-stream from his Ipad in which he conducted interviews and captured video of the events from the protest,” Rasmussen continued. “He possessed no firearms and threatened no one. In fact, the only government official that heard him speak was Daniel P. Love. The Government, after the incident, went back in time and reversed engineered the case to allege Santilli’s language was inciteful.”
Of course, what Rasmussen is referencing is this audio where Santilli is trying to reason with Love regarding the Constitution and what he is doing that is wrong in the BLM operation at Bundy Ranch.
Love is the man who was in charge of the BLM tyranny in Bunkerville in 2014.
Rasmussen concludes his response by stating that there are several options to ensure that Santilli’s speedy trial rights and judicial economy are balanced out.
First, concurrent trials could be staggered a week between two different judges. Since the government has four lawyers with a dozen helpers and endless resources to prosecute the case concurrently, Rasmussen suggests splitting it in two.
“It would be possible to complete this trial in one set of concurrent trials instead of one by one, in the hopes that another deadlocked jury does not create a mistrial,” he wrote.
Second, he provided the option of adding the group that Santilli will be tried with to the retrial group in hopes that the government does not retry the two defendants that were convicted of crimes that contain lengthy sentences.
He reminded the court that the District had successfully completed both an eleven defendant trial and a nine defendant trial in the past.
“This option would resolve two-thirds of the defendants in this case in one trial,” Rasmussen wrote. “These options are reasonable and are an appropriate method of avoiding further speedy trial violations by not requiring the continued exclusion of time beyond what is required.
Indeed, it is absolutely ridiculous to continue to hold men who committed no violent act, some of whom were acquitted of the same charges in Oregon and Santilli, who had similar charges dismissed in Oregon, and make them sit in prison because the government simply could not prove its case.
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