Bundy Brothers Rail|About Jail Conditions

     PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — Oregon occupation leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy say they should be allowed to sue over conditions at the Multnomah County Jail that prevent them from preparing their defense, according to papers filed late Tuesday.
     The brothers, along with co-defendants Peter Santilli, Ryan Payne, Blaine Cooper, Jason Patrick and Ken Medenbach, first raised the issues during a May 4 status hearing. The men say jailers denied them access to reams of discovery in their case, unsupervised time with their attorneys and Internet and other supplies they need to prepare their defense.
     Ammon Bundy said jail staff read and confiscated his notes outlining his legal strategy.
     The men are scrambling to prepare for their trial on charges related to the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, one of which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Jury selection is set to begin Sept. 7.
     U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown declared the case complex, because of the logistical difficulties in trying all 26 defendants at once and the enormous volume of evidence. The government estimated it has so far handed over 45,000 pages of discovery to defense attorneys.
     At a hearing on May 4, Brown told Capt. Derrick Peterson, commander of the Multnomah County Jail, to hammer out a plan to get the defendants the materials they need to prepare for their September trial.
     But the issues were not resolved, according to a joint status report filed by Ammon Bundy’s attorney Michael Arnold. The report includes responses from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
     The status report says the jailed defendants have no way to review the avalanche of evidence against them since they are not allowed access to computers with Internet service, and that the jail restricts the amount of paper they can keep in their cells.
     And five defendants in the case — the Bundy brothers, Ryan Payne, Brian Cavalier and Blaine Cooper — are also preparing for a simultaneous trial in Nevada over the 2014 standoff with the federal government at dad Cliven Bundy’s Bunkerville ranch. That case has also been declared complex.
     Lawyers for those five defendants are fighting in the Ninth Circuit to bar the government from dragging the defendants back and forth between the proceedings in the two cases.
     Ammon and Ryan Bundy say they are in solitary confinement for all but two hours of the day. During those two hours, they shower, exercise and make phone calls. That’s also the only time when Ammon Bundy says he can speak with his attorney.
     Ryan Bundy is representing himself.
     And it’s the only time the brothers have to access the jail’s law library, which does not have Internet access, they say.
     The defendants say they need Internet access to conduct legal research, and those facing charges both in Oregon and in Nevada need to research laws in both states.
     Jailers did not let Ryan Bundy attend a meeting with his co-defendants and their lawyers to discuss access issues with Peterson, according to the status report, even though Judge Brown told Capt. Peterson at the May 4 hearing that she wanted Ryan to attend.
     “Do your best to see that those expressing interest can attend,” Brown told Peterson. “It would be best if you heard from Ryan Bundy and heard what his issues are.”
     The defendants are not allowed to see each other, which they say is necessary to prepare their defense. They say they want to keep the government from “pitting them against each other by keeping them separate.”
     Though the jail has not declared the refuge occupiers a gang, it said in the status report that it has a policy to keep separate inmates who have shown they can “work together for a common goal.”
     The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said in the report that it recently increased the amount of paper allowed to three “banker boxes” full of legal pads, to be provided by the defendants’ lawyers. It said the papers would be searched for contraband but not read.
     It also said it would allow sticky notes or tape flags so the defendants can organize the huge volume of information.
     But Ammon Bundy said in the report that jail staff had already confiscated his sticky notes and tape flags, and threatened discipline if he was found with them again.
     Internet radio host Peter Santilli said in the status report that he needs a computer or an iPad to review the estimated 200 hours of broadcasts he made during the occupation, since the government will likely use his comments on his show as evidence. The sheriff’s office said it would consider letting Santilli have an iPad that his attorney loaded with the broadcasts when he is alone in his jail cell.
     The government took “no position” on the status report, according to a note in the report.

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