Two Oregon Occupiers Will Represent Themselves

     PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — Ryan Bundy and Kenneth Medenbach will represent themselves on federal conspiracy charges related to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, despite their repeated courtroom assertions that the case should be thrown out and the judge in charge has no legal authority.
     Bundy and Medenbach, part of a group of self-proclaimed “patriots” who carried copies of the Constitution in their pockets while keeping federal employees from working at the refuge throughout January, answered questions from U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown on Tuesday about why she shouldn’t strip them of their Sixth Amendment right to serve as their own lawyers.
     Brown has repeatedly warned them that their right to represent themselves is finite and could evaporate if they continued to make “baseless and frivolous arguments” like demanding that she “renew her vows” as a federal judge, claiming the federal court has no jurisdiction over their case and declaring that the federal government can’t bring charges against them because the Constitution prohibits federal ownership of public land.
     “Pro se status is not a license to do whatever one wants in the courtroom,” Brown said Tuesday.
     Medenbach readily assured Brown that he would follow her orders during the trial. He has worked out a “hybrid counsel” arrangement with his court-appointed lawyer Matthew Schindler.
     Schindler told Brown he agreed to the setup out of respect for Medenbach’s reluctance to blame the conspiracy on the leaders of the occupation.
     “He doesn’t want me to denigrate Ammon Bundy. He doesn’t want me to denigrate Ryan Bundy,” Schindler told Brown. “If this was a regular drug case, I would point to them and say, ‘These leaders are the ones who should be punished, not this little guy.’ If he was not pro se and I was his lawyer, I might choose to do this differently. But that’s important to him and I respect that.”
     Ryan Bundy seemed reluctant to elaborate on his initial statement.
     “I will abide by court rulings so long as those rulings are within the law,” Bundy told Brown. “And I reserve the right to call upon someone to help me. But I do not relinquish power over myself to an attorney. That just doesn’t sit right with me.”
     Brown replied, “No one is asking you to relinquish power over yourself. Do you intend to follow the court’s rulings in the presence of the jury? Yes or no?”
     Bundy stood silently, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
     “Say yes, Ryan!” a supporter cried.
     “I still have many questions that are unanswered,” he finally said. “So I will stick with my original statement.
     “Mr. Bundy, it sounds like you are reserving your right to interpret the law for yourself. And you don’t have the right to do that in the presence of a jury. Once a ruling has been made, you must follow it, is that clear?”
     “Understood,” Bundy said.
     Lisa Ludwig serves as Bundy’s court-appointed co-counsel. But he’ll have more help than that.
     Last Tuesday, Brown approved Bundy’s request to let Montana resident and convicted felon Roger L. Roots serve as his “volunteer paralegal.”
     But Brown denied Bundy’s request to let a second man, Texas resident Jeremy Baker, sit with him and Ludwig as a volunteer paralegal at today’s hearing.
     Before the proceedings, Baker asked co-defendant Shawna Cox, who was seated in the gallery, for pen and paper.
     “I totally forgot to bring a notepad,” Baker told Cox.
     Marshals later removed Baker from the gallery for whispering instructions to Bundy.
     Jury selection for eight of the defendants will begin Sept. 7. Opening arguments are scheduled to start Sept. 13.

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