PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – Prosecutors on Friday insisted that Ammon Bundy’s attorney be criminally prosecuted for a courtroom tussle with U.S. marshals and a shouting match with the federal judge who presided over Bundy’s acquittal last October for occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge.
Marcus Mumford, 43, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges similar to those he helped Bundy beat – impeding government employees and failing to comply with a federal officer. Both charges are misdemeanors, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and $5,000 fines.
Mumford’s attorney, Michael Levine, called the criminal charges against his client “an unprecedented attack on the defense bar.”
“I truly believe [it’s] unprecedented, and I’ve been practicing law for almost 40 years,” Levine said after the Friday hearing.
The charges stem from a rhubarb that ensued immediately after Bundy was acquitted on Oct. 27 last year. Mumford stood and asked that his client be released immediately, despite pending criminal charges in Nevada. Those charges stem from Bundy’s participation in an armed standoff with federal agents in 2014, as they tried to confiscate cattle that Bundy’s father had grazed illegally for years on federal land.
“He's acquitted. Nevada doesn't have jurisdiction,” Mumford yelled at U.S. District Judge Anna Brown in October. “If there's a detainer, show me.”
Brown replied: “Mr. Mumford, you really need to never yell at me now or never again.”
As the argument continued, half a dozen U.S. marshals surrounded Mumford at the defense table, eventually tackling him and shocking him with a stun gun in “dry fire” mode, meaning darts were not shot into him; the gun was placed on his body.
After the Friday hearing in Federal Court, Levine called the situation “unprecedented.”
“It’s outrageous,” Levine said. “There had been a tremendous not guilty verdict and the marshals overreacted and my client was doing nothing that a zealous advocate would not do.”
Mumford has requested video footage of the fracas. The October hearing was broadcast to a big screen playing in another courtroom to accommodate the dozens of spectators who attended the trial.
Spectators in the overflow room said the video feed was cut off before the fight between Mumford and the marshals. But U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman confirmed in an email to Mumford that he had ordered the preservation of all surveillance footage.
U.S. District Judge John Coughenour, from Washington state, presided over Friday’s hearing because Oregon judges were recused.
A special prosecutor from Seattle represented the government, rather than a lawyer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Oregon.
“I can’t recall an incident where an attorney in the midst of an argument on behalf of his client is tackled and Tased twice, surrounded by the force of the state,” Levine said after the Friday hearing. “If this is what America is coming to, ladies and gentlemen, we are in deep trouble.”
Mumford’s trial has been set for April 17.
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