Confidential Informants in the Malheur Protest Trial
by Shari Dovale
Marcus Mumford argued this week that the prosecution should reveal the names of the 15 Confidential Human Sources (CHS) used by the FBI in the Malheur Protest Trial.
The court contends that there is an initial privilege for the government to withhold identities. However, this contradicts the basic Constitutional right of the defendants to face their accusers.
There are 15 CHS, or confidential informants, and 129 reports from these sources that are in question. The defense received heavily redacted copies of the reports with numbers assigned to each informant and one report being completely blocked out.
Two of the informants have already been named. Mark McConnell was named by Oregon State Police Trooper Jeremiah Beckett during his testimony of the illegal traffic stop that lead to the murder of LaVoy Finicum on January 26th. Terri Linnell, also known as ‘Mama Bear’ at the Malheur Refuge, testified for the defense last week.
It is a concern that the informants actually coerced defendants into committing offenses, and may have taken part in what the government is calling a conspiracy. The court has stated that, “By definition, you cannot be a member of the conspiracy if you are a Confidential Informant.” However, Confidential Informants cannot knowingly break the law.
Therefore, with so many informants on the payroll in this case, the defendants should have the opportunity to explore if any of the informants were in a position to take part in this conspiracy.
Not only has there been evidence admitted in this trial that cannot be positively identified as belonging to the defendants, like many of the guns, there have been statements made by the government in which they admit the informants took part in leadership and/or organizational meetings. This puts some major constitutional violations in play.
“Government cannot create the problem and then deny me a solution,” Mumford said.
Added to the problem is that Ryan Bundy filed a motion over a month ago that requested this very information. Judge Anna Brown denied that motion, and only now is explaining to him that he (basically) filed it incorrectly. Ryan is representing himself in this trial.
The defendants are looking to have the names of the informants, as well as the information they relayed and the amounts they were paid, turned over to the defense before the case is completed, expected this week.