Ammon Bundy, the incarcerated leader of the Oregon wildlife refuge occupiers, is asking, via his legal team, for a delay in his trial and to be released in the interim. Currently, Ammon Bundy is scheduled to go on trial for charges related to the armed standoff outside of Burns, Oregon on September 7. Bundy recently hired new legal counsel based out of Utah, and he filed a motion to be released pending his upcoming trial. He also requested a delay in the trial just before midnight on Thursday.
Thursday was the deadline set by the court for Ammon Bundy and his lawyers to file a motion to continue the case.
His lawyers have argued that they need the delay in Ammon’s trial because there have been multiple pretrial motions that haven’t been handled to their satisfaction. They added that because of Ammon Bundy’s incarceration, they had a difficult preparing a defense with their client, reports The Oregonian.
“[Ammon Bundy’s incarceration] has rendered it virtually impossible for him to participate meaningfully in his defense.”
Ammon Bundy’s lawyers, J. Morgan Philpot and Marcus Mumford, told the court that the decision to file a motion to delay the scheduled September 7 trial wasn’t made lightly.
“It was not until approximately 10:30 p.m. Pacific Time, after much consultation with his legal counsel, that he agreed to file this motion, judging that his larger interest in a fair trial, must at this point request a continuance of the trial date.”
According to the motions filed with the Oregon court on behalf of Ammon Bundy just before midnight on Thursday, he and his legal team want the court to grant him two more months to argue for his pretrial release. They also plan on using that time, if granted, to prepare Ammon Bundy’s defense. At that time, they plan on asking for a new trial date.
Ammon Bundy is 40-years-old, and he is the leader of a total of 26 defendants who have been charged in relation to the illegal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He and his co-defendants have been charged with conspiring to impede federal workers at the through “intimidation, threats or force.” Additionally, Bundy is facing firearms charges for having his many weapons illegally on federal property.
Ammon Bundy pleaded not guilty to the federal charges against him. He has argued, as the leader of the Oregon occupiers, that he and his co-defendants occupied the unguarded wildlife refuge in mid-winter in order to “protest federal land ownership.”
In recent days and weeks, several of Ammon Bundy’s co-defendants have opted to accept plea deals. In total, six of the Oregon occupiers have negotiated plea deals with the government, including Ammon Bundy’s personal bodyguard, Brian Cavalier, who entered his plea just this week. There have been many rumors circulating that those who have negotiated plea deals have agreed to testify against Ammon Bundy and other members of the Bundy family.
Recent changes to the charges against Ammon Bundy have caused his newly-hired Utah lawyers to argue that he has been unfairly incarcerated for the last five months. According to his lawyers, because the court recently dismissed one of the counts against him, possession of a firearm in the course of a crime of violence, Bundy should be released pending trial.
“Defendant requires additional time to resolve the unfairness presented by the government’s actions before he should be forced to stand trial. The effect of the court’s ruling is that it was error to have detained defendant from the outset of this case, and defendant should have been out on release able to review discovery, confer with his lawyers unimpeded, and assist in assembling the resources for his defense.”
The request for a delay in his trial is a deviation from Ammon Bundy’s previous course of action as he had earlier demanded a speedy trial. He is also not the only one associated with the Oregon occupation that asked the court to delay their respective trials as Jason Patrick and Jon Ritzheimer both asked for a postponement as well.
The federal charges that Bundy is dealing with due to his actions in Oregon are far from his only legal hurdles. He is also facing federal prosecution in Nevada due to his participation in an armed standoff with federal agents in that state in 2014.
Ammon Bundy is scheduled for a status hearing on Wednesday.
[Photo by Handout/Getty Images]