Shocking The Conscience: The Hammond Story
“I find it incredible that the government would want to try these ranchers as terrorists…Now is where the rubber meets the road. Right now, is when the public should absolutely be incensed. And the public, I think, should be fearful.” ~Barry Bushue, President, Oregon Farm Bureau
We reported on Duane Ehmer’s last ride to destination Hell (prison) on his horse, Hellboy.
Duane stated that the main purpose of his ride was, not to call attention to the injustice being heaped on him by a corrupt federal justice system, but to call attention to the plight of the Hammonds, the ranching family in Oregon.
To extract the maximum amount of benefit from Duane’s last ride, the sacrifice of LaVoy Finicum, who laid down his life for reasons related to the Hammonds and the greater cause of liberty, and the sacrifice made by the Bundys and many others, it is time to revisit the Hammond story and how it ties into the bigger picture.
Hellboy, A Symbol Of How The Federal Government Should Be
When the founders gave us the U.S. Constitution, they did so with the goal of making government a servant, opposite of what they had experienced with Great Britain. The constitution was designed to restrain, rein in, restrict and place limits on government. In effect, to make government a servant, not a master, like Duane’s faithful horse, Hellboy.
Imagine, as Duane makes his way to destination hell (prison), that Hellboy is riding on the back of Duane, rather than the other way around. Imagine an upside down world, where the horse becomes the rider and the two-legged human rider, the bearer of the horse. That is what we have today with the federal government, rather than acting as a public servant, it has become a fearful master.
The Hammond story is but one of many manifesting this upside down world, a world where, like Barry Bushue said, “the public, I think, should be fearful”.
The Nutty Ninth
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, also known as, the “Nutty Ninth”, allegedly had jurisdiction to consider the appeal made by the federal government against the ruling made by Judge Michael Hogan, in which he ruled that the mandatory 5 year sentence for charges of arson, as sought by the federal prosecutors against Dwight and Steven Hammond, “shocked the conscience” and was “grossly disproportionate” to the crime that the Hammonds were accused of.
Judge Hogan, in keeping with the doctrine of the Nuremberg trials, refused to go along with something so fundamentally unfair, something that violates basic human rights and was tantamount to crimes against humanity, allowed his conscience to be “shocked”, just as the Nazi officers should have been shocked by the actions and laws of Nazi Germany.
You may recall that during the Nuremberg trials, the Nazi defendants, one after another, invoked the defense that they were “just following orders”. The response by the Nuremberg court was that “following orders” defense and fear of consequences by the Nazi government against them was not a sufficient defense for their actions against humanity.
The Nuremberg judges made it abundantly clear that if one must choose between following orders that lead to crimes against other human beings or the consequences of disobedience to the government powers who sponsor the unjust laws, and if such consequences include your own imprisonment and/or death for such disobedience, then so be it.
Likewise, Judge Hogan invoked his right as a human being, and as a judge, to do the right thing, which is to reject the lunacy, the insanity, the nonsense and the upside down world of the federal government who claims that a 5 year mandatory sentence for arson is reasonable and appropriate.
The process employed by Judge Hogan is not too different from jury nullification in which a group of human beings, peers to the defendant(s), can use the reasoning of the Nuremberg court and then judge not only the facts, but the law, and if the law is “grossly disproportionate” to the crime and “shocks the conscience”, then they have a duty to nullify it.
In regards to the supreme sanctity of the law, Thomas Jefferson said,
“…law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of an individual.”
The Nutty Ninth, in a display of shocking logic and nonsensical reasoning, cited numerous court cases that support the idea that the Hammond sentence was not unreasonable. The Court found that a five-year sentence for arson does not violate the Eighth Amendment:
“Given the seriousness of arson, a five-year sentence is not grossly disproportionate to the offense. The Supreme Court has upheld far tougher sentences for less serious or, at the very least, comparable offenses. See Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003) (upholding a sentence of fifty years to life under California’s three-strikes law for stealing nine videotapes); Ewing v. California, 538 U.S. 11 (2003) (upholding a sentence of twenty-five years to life under California’s three-strikes law for the theft of three golf clubs); Hutto v. Davis, 454 U.S. 370 (1982) (per curiam) (upholding a forty-year sentence for possession of nine ounces of marijuana with the intent to distribute); Rummel v. Estelle, 445 U.S. 263 (1980) (upholding a life sentence under Texas’s recidivist statute for obtaining $120.75 by false pretenses). And we and other courts have done the same. See, e.g., United States v. Tolliver, 730 F.3d 1216, 1230–32 (10th Cir. 2013) (upholding a 430-month sentence for using arson in the commission of a felony); United States v. Major, 676 F.3d 803, 812 (9th Cir. 2012) (upholding a 750-year sentence for offenses under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)), cert. denied, 133 S. Ct. 280; United States v. Meiners, 485 F.3d 1211, 1212–13 (9th Cir. 2007) (per curiam) (upholding a fifteen-year sentence for advertising child pornography); United States v. Uphoff, 232 F.3d 624, 625–26 (8th Cir. 2000) (upholding a five-year sentence for arson of a building).” ~As cited by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in their decision to reverse Judge Hogan’s decision.
STOP! Let Your Conscience Be Shocked!
Did you read the reasoning of the Nutty Ninth above?
The mandatory sentence of 5 years for the Hammonds, following time already served, according to the Nutty Ninth, is reasonable! Why is it reasonable? Because there is abundant precedent to, not only support, but to actually make the sentencing even tougher than 5 years, based on these and many other precedent setting court cases.
Do you grasp it? Are you digesting and assimilating it?
Fifty years to life under California’s three-strikes law for stealing nine videotapes! 50 years to life!! Lives ruined, permanently, for stealing 9 videotapes. Lives not only of the accused, but their families and others. And, the conscience just keeps getting shocked as you read through the list.
The Queen Of Hearts And The Queen Of Spades
We have spoken before how precedent, also known as “stare decisis”, is a process where courts, often with their own biases and agendas, make unconstitutional decisions, based on unconstitutional decisions of previous courts, perpetuating and making worse, the constitution destroying process of decisions handed down by previous courts.
Here, we have the Nutty Ninth, justifying the conscience shocking decision to impose a mandatory sentence of 5 years on the Hammonds, because of other conscience shocking decisions made by courts stuck in the whirlpool of bad and unconstitutional precedents.
It would be like the Queen of Hearts justifying her nonsense by holding up the nonsensical decisions made by the Queen of Spades, whose decisions were as bad or worse than those of the Queen of Hearts.
It would be like Hitler justifying his crimes against humanity by showing that another German ruler had made equally bad or worse laws before him.
Another person put it this way, “In other words, since even worse miscarriages of justice have passed constitutional muster, this one must be OK too. Given the binding authority of the Supreme Court’s precedents, the 9th Circuit’s legal reasoning is hard to fault. But it highlights the gap between what is legal and what is right, a gap that occasionally inspires judges to commit random acts of fairness.”
The Devil Is In The Details
As one delves into the all the background and circumstances surrounding the Hammond case, truly, one’s conscience is shocked. It is not the intent of this article to name all the devils in the details, they are just too numerous, but let me give a few.
The Rare Appeal Of Amanda Marshall Not So Appealing
Federal U.S. Attorney for Oregon, Amanda Marshall, was plucked out of obscurity, with no previous experience in a leadership role and given the enormous power of, not only a federal prosecutor, but the head of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Oregon.
Marshall was appointed by Obama in October, 2011, with no previous federal prosecutor experience. It was Marshall who pushed for the appeal of Judge Hogan’s decision not to impose the 5 year mandatory sentence on the Hammonds.
Appeals of a sitting judge’s decision are rare:
“Amanda Marshall: Former U.S. Attorney for Oregon. Marshall recommended that the federal government challenge the Hammonds’ original prison sentences. By law, the convictions come with mandatory five-year sentences, but U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan in 2012 balked at the punishment and instead sentenced Dwight Hammond to three months and Steven Hammond to one year.
Marshall called Hogan’s punishments “unlawful.” The solicitor general authorized a rare appeal of an Oregon judge’s order. The appeals court sided with the prosecution, and the Hammonds returned to federal court last year to face a second sentencing. At that hearing, U.S. Chief District Judge Ann Aiken ordered the pair to finish five-year terms.”
One is reminded of the parallels between Navarro and Marshall, both women launched into enormous positions of power, with no previous experience. Both ideological supporters of Obama, Reid and their ilk. Both united in a common cause, issues surrounding the Hammonds and the Bundys.
Marshall ascended to her position of power from her previous position as a child advocacy worker. After winning the appeal against the Hammonds, she stepped down from her position. Was her mission accomplished?
Marshall’s background gets even weirder and darker. Marshall was accused of stalking a subordinate.
But then, here is the kicker. As a child advocacy worker for Oregon, Marshall may have had involvement with the Hammonds through their troubled grandson, Dusty Hammond, who was the government’s main witness against his grandfather and uncle, Dwight and Steven Hammond respectively. There is evidence that, Dusty, the government’s star witness against his family, had many years of mental problems, prior to the incidents giving rise to the charges against the Hammonds. While the nexus between Marshall and Dusty is not conclusive, it raises a lot of suspicions.
Suffice it to say, the combination of Brown, Navarro and Marshall, provide a potent force for furthering federal government interests, interests that are dirty and unconstitutional.
Who Set The Fires For Which The Hammonds Have Been Imprisoned?
Ammon Bundy has stated that there is additional exculpatory evidence that could exonerate the Hammonds.
While at the Malheur refuge, Ammon Bundy indicated that they had gathered evidence that the BLM had started the fires using drip torches.
Another source quotes Ammon:
“We have evidence of eyewitnesses that saw the Bureau of Land Management – an agent, two agents from the Bureau of Land Management – that actually lit the fire with a drip torch on the south and the north side of the Hammonds’ Steen Mountain property,” he said.
This fact is buttressed by a statement in which Steven Hammond told a BLM agent that he would take them down with him as they were the ones who started the fire.
Joe Glascock, a Bureau of Land Management conservation manager, confronted the men with a sheriff official about the fires in 2006. At trial, prosecutors said Steve Hammond told Glascock the situation could get “sticky” if the fire investigation wasn’t dropped.
“If you want to stay here, you’ll make this go away,” the rancher said, per the prosecutor. “If I go down, I’m taking you with me. You lighted those fires, not me.”
Could this be one reason why, after 41 days of peaceful occupation of the refuge, the federal government chose to arrest Ammon and his supporters, in an effort to suppress that evidence?
Regardless of who started the fire, there is abundant evidence that the BLM lights fires all the times that get out of control and cause damage and suffering to property and livestock. Where are the justifiable and soul cleansing minimum sentences for them?
The Lust For Power And The Hidden Agenda Of The Federal Team
Those who know the Hammonds, and who know them well, can testify of the relentless persecution of this family based on sinister motives.
In an effort to stave off what they feared was a pending Clinton/Babbitt monument designation in 2000, a group of ranchers on the scenic Steens Mountain worked with Oregon Representative Greg Walden, a republican, to draft and enact the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act that would prevent such a deed. The ranchers agreed to work with special interest “environmental” groups like the aggressive Oregon Natural Desert Association and others to protect the higher-than 10,000 foot breathtaking peak.
A number of ranchers at the top of the mountain traded their BLM permits and private property for land on the valley floor, allowing the anti-grazing groups to create a 170,000 acre wilderness, with almost 100,000 acres being “cow-free.”
“The last holdouts on that cow-free wilderness were the Hammonds,” explained Maupin. And because the Hammonds have large chunks of private property in the heart of the cooperative management area, they carried a target on their backs.
“It’s become more and more obvious over the years that the BLM and the wildlife refuge want that ranch. It would tie in with what they have,” said Inglis.
The Hammonds also lost their ability to water cattle on one BLM permit when refuge personnel drained a watering hole that the Hammonds had always used.
Maupin said the government scientists and resource managers working “on the ground” supported the Hammonds’ use of the water but that the high level bureaucrats backed special interest anti-grazing groups. “There is a huge disconnect between employees on the ground and the decision-makers,” she said, building tension between ranchers and federal agencies.
In the Hammonds’ plea agreement in the 2012 trial, the BLM obtained the first right of refusal should the family have to sell their land and BLM leases, Maupin added.
The Maupins themselves had a small lease that also bordered the “cow-free wilderness” and the Oregon Natural Desert Association was “relentless in their pursuit to have us off, in order to expand the cow-free wilderness,” Maupin said. The group would criticize the ranchers’ water usage, causing them to pipe water to their cattle, which in turn instigated more complaints from the group.
Eventually the Maupins sold their permit and moved.
But the Hammonds remained.
Parallels Between The Hammonds And The Bundys
Are you seeing the similarities between the Hammonds and the Bundys?
Besides being ranchers, besides being persecuted by a powerful federal government, besides being among the last ranchers standing, another quality that the Bundys and the Hammonds share in common is a reputation for being good decent family people.
After 34 years working for the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon, Rusty Inglis resigned from his position with the federal government and now ranches about 40 miles from the Hammonds and is unique in the area – he has no federal land permits and operates strictly on private land.
“The Hammond family is not arsonists. They are number one, top-notch. They know their land management.”
Inglis, president of his county Farm Bureau organization and a member of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association said both groups are working to help gain media attention for the Hammond case. The state Farm Bureau group gathered signatures online for a petition to show widespread support for the family. “Enough is enough. We are not in Nazi Germany. We are in the United States of America.”
Maupin talked about the Hammonds helping her and her husband with ranch work, like hauling cattle, lending portable panels and never expecting anything in return. Wilber recalled them hauling 4-H calves to the fair for neighbors and Inglis said Dwight once offered to lend him money because he thought he needed help. “H
ere’s a guy with $400,000 in fines and legal bills I can’t imagine, worrying about my welfare,” said Inglis.
Susie Hammond, like most Americans, cannot get her head around it, things like this just don’t happen in America, or do they?
“We didn’t think it could happen,” said Susie Hammond, adding that stress has taken a serious toll on her health. “We thought we lived in America where you have one trial and you have one sentencing. They just keep playing political, legal mind games with people and people’s lives.”
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