PORTLAND, Ore. — Ammon Bundy’s federal conspiracy trial resumed Thursday despite a motion from his lawyers seeking a postponement until a court rules on their appeals.
Among other things, attorneys Marcus Mumford and J. Morgan Philpot have taken issue with U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown’s order that the ownership of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is not on trial, and her notice to jurors that the federal government owns the refuge that Bundy and his followers occupied for 41 days last winter.
Philpot, in a separate court document, reiterated a longstanding argument that Bundy’s pretrial detention has hindered his defense.
He also lodged complaints about the government’s treatment of his client during the trial, saying U.S. marshals have not allowed Bundy to confer with attorneys during breaks and that Bundy has been denied the use of “normal” pens, paper and amounts of paper.
Philpot said his client is also not getting enough food.
“Since the beginning of trial Mr. Bundy has regularly been deprived of meals and adequate sustenance, resulting in physical and mental fatigue beyond what is normal or allowable under basic principles of fairness and decency,” he wrote.
Bundy and six co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to impede federal employees from doing their jobs at the refuge during the standoff. The occupation followed a rally protesting the imprisonment of Dwight and Steven Hammond, two Oregon ranchers convicted of arson. It grew into a wider call for the government to relinquish control of the refuge and other Western lands.
As the appeals await rulings by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the trial continued with testimony from The Rev. Franklin Graham, who helped negotiate the surrender of the final four occupiers on Feb. 11, two of whom are on trial.
The FBI initially called Graham at the suggestion of Jeff Banta, who is on trial. Graham had daily phone calls with the holdouts before flying his own plane to Oregon from North Carolina.
Graham testified he relied upon God as he tried to encourage a peaceful resolution. He said memories of what happened at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, were a reason he wanted to help.
When the occupation was finally over, two FBI negotiators cried uncontrollably, “just so thankful to God no one was hurt,” Graham testified.
Banta, 47, followed Graham to the witness stand, testifying for two hours. Banta said his initial reason for traveling from Nevada to Oregon was to help out at Hammond’s ranch because it was short-staffed.
He testified that he did nothing wrong, and it didn’t appear law enforcement was overly concerned with an occupation that had been underway for three weeks when he arrived.
“I figured if it was illegal, they would have nipped it in the bud,” Banta said.
Banta said he asked that Graham serve as a negotiator because he had seen him on Facebook, traveling to different states and praying. “I thought that’s what our country needs,” Banta testified.