PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A defense attorney for one of seven people on trial in Oregon for charges related to the armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge asked a judge early Wednesday asking the judge to dismiss a juror over allegations of bias — or to declare a mistrial.
Marcus Mumford, an attorney for Ammon Bundy, said in court papers that the court did not adequately investigate concerns about the juror’s impartiality, which emerged Tuesday afternoon in a note sent to the judge by another juror.
In the note, Juror No. 4 wrote: “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?”
The jury had been deliberating three days when the note was sent.
U.S. District Judge Anna Brown said during a hearing on the matter late Tuesday that the juror in question was Juror No. 11, who worked as a range tech and firefighter for the BLM more than 20 years ago.
That’s relevant because another federal land management agency — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — oversees the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which Bundy, his brother Ryan, and five others took over last winter in a 41-day armed standoff near Burns, Oregon.
The jury is considering charges against the Bundy brothers and five others of conspiring to impede federal workers from doing their jobs at the refuge. They took over the bird sanctuary Jan. 2, objecting to federal land policy and demanding the U.S. government turn over control of public range to local officials.
During jury selection, the man said his past employment would not prejudice his views in the case.
Brown questioned the man again Tuesday in her chambers and ruled that he could remain on the jury after she found that his views had not changed on his ability to remain impartial.
However, she told defense attorneys they had until Wednesday to file motions citing specific case law if they wanted to press for more jury questioning.
Mumford said in court papers the court should also question Juror No. 4, who wrote the note. He also argued that Brown should ask Juror No. 11 directly if he made the statement attributed to him by his fellow juror.
In a second note sent Tuesday by jurors, they asked the judge: “If we are able to agree on a verdict for three of the defendants, but are at a standoff for the others, does our decision for the three stand?” The note does not identify the three.
Before sending the jury home, Brown sent back a note that instructed them to “consider each count for each defendant separately.”
Associated Press Writer Steven Dubois contributed to this report.
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