By Tim Baldwin
The jury found the Bundy brothers and co-defendants not guilty on a variety of charges stemming from the so-called Oregon standoff. What can we learn?
First, the prosecutors simply may have failed to prove the charges. Second, the jury could have nullified the charges, meaning finding not guilty despite the evidence. Third, the jury could have signaled to the government that it agrees with the Bundys’ protest.
Oregon is not known for right-wingers. It leans liberal. That 12 random people in Oregon found all defendants not guilty is extremely significant, indicating a broad distrust of federal government police power.
Prosecutors and police can be used for political purposes. When media is on their side (as they were here), it’s full steam ahead. Police and prosecutors have tremendous discretion on whom to target for investigation and prosecution. Probable cause is a low standard of proof, so finding ways to massage evidence to get arrest warrants or indictments is not difficult.
Police and prosecutors know that bringing the charge by itself creates tremendous pressure for defendants to enter into plea agreements to avoid potentially harsh consequences of prison if a jury finds them guilty. They didn’t suspect a jury would stand in their way though in Oregon.
Like the verdict or not, this case demonstrates that the purpose of the jury (i.e. to check the government) is alive and well in America.
By Joe Carbonari
Score one for peaceful protest and the average American. Good sense prevailed, and the government’s charge of conspiracy was rejected over the Bundy wildlife sanctuary show. Certainly there was trespass and a protest, with media help, and some risk to law and order. Both guns and the talk of violence played a larger role than was necessary; one dead, unnecessarily.
If we are going to have violence at our political protests, and it will occasionally happen, let’s try to hold it to a few bare knuckles. The issue of governmental overreach is serious and needs address, but let’s hope that the need for death in the streets is not yet upon us. At Malheur in Oregon, and at the Bundy ranch in Nevada, the drama was overplayed, but the people were heard.
We all would like to have more say about how the land around us is used. We have the most say about our own. We have less say in our neighbors’ use their land, our power is limited, but we do have a say. That is also true as regards any government land that may neighbor us. We have a say through our local representatives, and, as citizens, we share ownership. Additionally, we can, have, and will continue to form special interest organizations as necessary. This ability can be abused and no doubt has been, especially through the courts. In Oregon, however, seemingly justice was served, voices heard, and disaster avoided. It could have been worse.
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