Jury Deliberations Begin Again for Malheur 7
By Shari Dovale
Verdict watch continues in the trial of the Malheur Protesters in Portland.
On the third day of deliberations, questions were sent out from the jury, which included a question from Juror #4 concerning Juror #11. The question read:
Can a juror, a former employee of the Bureau of Land Management, who opens their remarks in deliberations by stating ‘I am very biased …’ be considered an impartial judge in this case?
This sparked concern throughout the courtroom. The juror in question is a former Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employee, though it has been many years since he held that position. He was asked during jury selection whether or not this would affect his being impartial and he responded “Not really. It was 20 years ago.”
As the defendants are charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers, and defined by Judge Brown to mean keeping US Fish & Wildlife employees OR BLM employees from doing their jobs, this is a major point of relevance.
It is also noteworthy to remember that included in the defense case is the evidence pointing to BLM employees starting range fires, etc.
The defense asked for his removal for cause, yet Judge Brown denied this saying that she felt he could remain unbiased. This has certainly come back to bite her.
The prosecution was against removing the juror, yet the defense was adamant that this happen. Judge Anna Brown was not at all in favor of removing the juror and replacing him at this stage of the game.
However, Judge Brown gave the two sides until this morning to prepare arguments on their position, and be able to cite case law to back it up.
Marcus Mumford, attorney for Ammon Bundy came prepared. He filed a motion to dismiss the juror or declare a mistrial. Parts of the motion read:
- The Court not only failed to ask Juror #11directly whether he made the admission of impermissible bias, but it also declined to question Juror #4 as unanimously requested by all seven defendants.
- … given the centrality of BLM employee “duties” and the controversy and conflict surrounding the BLM as presented in both the government’s case-in-chief, and in the defense, it is unreasonable to overlook the report of Juror #11 having made statements to other jurors –apparently based upon his personalized knowledge and experience as a prior BLM employee.
- In either circumstance, actual or implied bias, the tepid efforts so far employed by the Court are insufficient to resolve the concerns raised, and Juror #11 should be dismissed.
It seems that this may have flustered Judge Brown, as she made statements suggesting that the decisions were much easier yesterday than today. She certainly was not as quick to dismiss the defense arguments as is normal for her.
She charged both sides to discuss the situation during a recess and come to an agreement. After some time, the prosecution agreed to the replacement of Juror #11.
Alternate juror #18 was sent for from her home in Central Oregon. Judge Brown dismissed the biased juror and instructed the remaining members of the jury that they must destroy their prior notes and be prepared to start anew in the morning.
The jury did not seem happy. After 3 days of deliberations to get to this point, one can hardly blame them.
The deliberations continue at 8:30 am, yet is is currently uncertain if the judge will ask them to work on Friday or the weekend.