Jurors in the Bundy Ranch case nullify federal charges

Ammon Bundy, one of the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, smiles as he arrives for a news conference at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge after meeting with Harney County Sheriff David Ward Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, near Burns, Ore. Ward and two other Oregon sheriffs met Thursday with Bundy, the leader of an armed group occupying a federal wildlife refuge and asked them to leave, after residents made it clear they wanted them to go home. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The jury assigned to the Bundy Ranch standoff case against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acquitted members of the Bundy family of federal charges (although they still have other charges they will have to face):

Just after 4 p.m. Thursday, Judge Anna Brown read all charges: all defendants were found not guilty of charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers and not guilty of possession of firearms in a federal facility. One of the occupiers, Kenneth Medenbach, was found not guilty of theft of a government-owned truck. The jury was hung on the charge of theft of government cameras against Ryan Bundy.

But wait, weren’t these people filming themselves breaking these laws?  Wasn’t it well known by everyone what they were doing?

Shouldn’t that make the jury deliver a guilty verdict?

Whether the members of the jury realized what they were doing or not, they practiced jury nullification.  The jury has the right to judge the law as well as the guilt or innocence of the defendant.  So this means that even if they agree that the Bundys broke the law, if the jury believes that they did not actually do anything wrong or that they do not believe that the laws they broke should even exist, then it is perfectly acceptable to acquit them.

As a huge proponent of jury nullification, this makes me very happy.  The various agents of the state are now obviously upset.  This is not supposed to be the way all of this works in the eyes of the state, but they cannot say too much against it since it would undermine their own system if they did.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said she is disappointed but respects the jury’s decision. “The occupation of the Malheur Refuge by outsiders did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences,” Brown said in a statement Thursday.

Isn’t it ironic that Gov. Brown would appeal to “the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences” when she and her government routinely send armed police officers to violently solve problems?

This is a step in the right direction.  This is egg in the face of the federal government and a shot in the arm for jury nullification especially considering the high profile nature of the case.  I hope that the potentially confusing outcome of this trial will cause people to explore why the Bundys were acquitted and subsequently discover nullification.

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