LEGAL REALITY CHECK – A Case in Point Regarding Judicial Transparency (among other things)

This is a follow-up to my previous BFP piece about the lack of transparency in the so-called justice system.

OPB recently broke a story about unique developments in the Bundy/Malheur Refuge case that provide several perfect examples of the kind of lack of transparency that I’ve been talking about, not to mention common distortions by the mainstream media.

I’ll start out by discussing the media distortion issue first.   In the article, the OPB headline asserted that the Bundy defendants had received “special privileges” to have unmonitored meetings with their attorneys to help prepare for their upcoming trial.  From my perspective, this characterization is a total distortion of what is really going on.

The reality is, Judge Jones was making reasonable accommodations to help ensure compliance with constitutional requirements.  A more appropriate description would have been “Judge grants special accommodations under circumstances to ensure constitutional right to legal counsel.”  Another way to phrase it might have been: “Court takes action to help ensure that, under the unique circumstances of the case, Defendants’ civil rights are not violated,” (and hopefully avoid appealable errors).  Or, here’s yet another possibility:  “Based on Multnomah County Jail’s questionable attorney/client communications practices, judge takes action to help ensure effective right to legal counsel.”

One of the biggest challenges is with the characterization “privileges.”  The distorted notion that these defendants received some special privilege in this regard doesn’t hold water.  And it is not consistent with what Judge Jones said.  He said they received “special accommodations.”  To characterize what happened as special privileges is the functional equivalent of making special accommodations, under applicable circumstances, for someone with a hearing impairment or other physical handicap, etc., and call such accommodations “special privileges.”  As in this case, such a description is a distorted and misguided characterization.

Granted, the Bundy/Malheur case is unique.  It involves multiple defendants, and multiple attorneys.  It will require special accommodations to ensure compliance with constitutional requirements.  Special accommodations are not the same as special privileges. This isn’t doesn’t even involve “privileges.”  It involves fundamental constitutional rights. Everyone is entitled to such accommodations as are reasonably necessary to ensure constitutional compliance and protection of these rights.  Moreover, because it appears that these particular defendants are being treated essentially as political prisoners and enemies of the state, they are apparently  concerned about obvious government eavesdropping (which everyone knows is already happening at level, let alone a high-interest situation like this one), and their ability to have unmonitored, confidential communications with their attorneys.

And just to explore this issue a little deeper, it is my understanding that any and all attorneys or other parties (including me) who have had anything to do with this particular case (the Bundy/Malheur case) or related parties are subject to very invasive electronic surveillance.  Speaking of transparency, because of this unprecedented level of electronic spying – even on attorneys’ communications with their clients – from what I understand, the government has purportedly undertaken the unusual step of implementing what is referred to as a “taint team” that is supposed to be scrubbing all information made available to the prosecutors to supposedly prevent the disclosure of confidential communications between the defendants and their attorneys.  So in short, one team of federal domestic spies are monitoring all the parties’ communications, including the communications of court-appointed attorneys, while another team of federal good Samaritans are trying to make sure the information the other team has access to isn’t being misused for criminal prosecution purposes.  Doesn’t that make you feel better?

I’ll have to confess that the thought that regardless of what I might want to think, I have zero privacy, and it’s not just God watching my every move gives me a lot to think about.  But I try to take comfort in the fact that to the extent any of my communications with any of the subject parties or their attorneys are covered by attorney/client privilege, there is someone out there who will dependably and good-naturedly ensure that those communications won’t be shared with the prosecutors.  It gives me warm and fuzzies just thinking about it.

Despite all the legitimate justifications for the communications arrangements, in attempting to finally disclose and explain the special attorney/client communication arrangements made available to the Bundy defendants, Judge Jones has now said some things that ought to be a concern for a number of reasons, and in this part of his explanation he does use the words “privileges,” and “special treatment,” which I find to be both troublesome and problematic. He said:

“Initially, I chose to keep these special accommodations off the record to avoid publicity based on advice from the Multnomah County Sheriffs office and the USMS suggesting that the special treatment might pose a danger to these defendants and influence other inmates at the jail to request similar privileges.

So, in a nutshell, what we have here is a federal judge making off-the-record legal decisions, based on secret meetings, and ex parte advice from a county sheriff’s office, and the US Marshall Service, and keeping the whole thing under wraps “for weeks.”   It looks more like months actually.  And a big question revolves around why on August 4th, over two months later, Judge Jones would finally provide a carefully worded “declaration” disclosing the whole thing.  There is no question that how he has handled the whole situation has a tendency to raise suspicion, prompt speculation, and make the whole situation appear to be much more “special” than it actually is, and raises all kinds of questions.  It is genuinely unclear why he didn’t just take an open, transparent, straight-forward approach.  But of course that would have deprived quite a few people of something “special” to fuss about.

Regardless of all those issues, this is a perfect example of lack of transparency in the judicial system, and why it is so problematic.  In my view, the explanation Judge Jones provided raises more questions than answers, and the approach he chose to take has caused more problems and issues than he was purportedly seeking to avoid.  While we’re talking about Judge Jones, however, I also want to say something about one of his other rulings.

During a recent hearing addressing pre-trial detention, Ammon Bundy’s attorney, Marcus Mumford, outlined some of the defenses and legal theories he intended to assert, including adverse possession.  He said that the Malheur occupiers, including Bundys, were seeking to stake an adverse possession claim at the refuge.  My understanding of the argument was that he was seeking to assert the fundamental principles involved in an adverse possession claim, and then seeking to attempt to apply those principles and concepts to the situation at the refuge, in the form of a defense explaining why Bundys were doing what they were doing at the refuge.  Judge Jones quickly, and seemingly off-the-cuff, rejected the argument, however, and ruled that it is not possible to make an adverse possession/use claim against the government.

The point I want to make in that regard is that Judge Jones’ blanket observation is not entirely true, and he seemed to be very hasty in rejecting the conceptual principles.  It is worth noting that these principles were not being asserted affirmatively, seeking to have the court issue a ruling that the occupiers were legally entitled to some sort of decree of adverse possession.  Instead, the principles were being asserted as a defense, to help explain their motives and what they were thinking – which seems to be relevant, especially in light of latent assertions that they were not only seeking to impede federal officers, but that they were also conspiring to overthrow the federal government.   If, however, they can show that what they were really trying to do was assert an adverse possession claim -- even if they were wrong in their reasoning -- it could change the equation, particularly with respect to intent.

In terms of exploring and applying the principles involved in an adverse possession claim, it is useful to note that the whole concept of RS 2477 rights-of-way across federal land is based on grandfathered adverse use and prescriptive rights principles. So there is some precedent for application of the principles.

But if all this leaves you scratching your head, you’re not the only one.

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Todd Macfarlane, Newsbud- BFP Legal Analyst & Commentator, is an attorney, rancher, writer, political activist, conservationist and commentator.  Although he is comfortable wearing several different hats, beyond faith, family and grass-fed livestock ranching, his primary interests include natural law, property rights, western land-use, political policy, and what he often refers to as the “so-called justice system.”  

Obama Set to Settle Score against Oregon Sheriff Outspoken on the Second Amendment

US Media Bury the Three-Year Long Grudge Held by the Feds against Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer

In the latest development involving the Burns-OR Standoff case, the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training is asking the state Department of Justice to investigate Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer after receiving numerous complaints from the public and others, including dispatchers and the John Day police chief. The Department has released eight separate complaints, including ones from a 911 manager and the John Day police chief, alleging misconduct by Palmer, and raising alarm concerning Palmer's association with leaders of the refuge occupation.

The Department of Justice has been asked to investigate the case, and the licensing agency has warned Palmer that if violations of police standards are found, he could face revocation of his police certification.

According to a one-sided article published by Oregon Live on Thursday, February 18, Palmer has drawn criticism for his association with the armed militants who took over the wildlife refuge and his meeting with some of the occupation leaders:

"I have a great public safety concern when the Grant County sheriff is allowed to openly meet with and be part of this group of lawbreakers," said John Day Police Chief Richard Gray in his complaint.

According to Valerie Luttrell, emergency communications manager for John Day 911:

“Glenn Palmer is viewed as a security leak, not only by local law enforcement staff but by the Oregon State Police and FBI."

The article goes on to list verbatim quotes from anonymous complainants- and does not indicate whether the complainants are associated with or employed by BLM or other interested parties.

The most interesting aspect of the Oregon Live article is what has been ‘intentionally’ left unsaid, unexplained, and plainly omitted. Nowhere in the article is there any mentioning of Sheriff Palmer’s highly public profile since 2013, his history of constitutional activism, or of his being a prime target of a never-solved bizarre bio-terror case.

I would like to emphasize intentionally, since just a simple internet query under the news category on Sheriff Glenn Palmer brings up dozens of results that range from front page headlines to popular syndicated radio shows dating back to 2013. In fact, since Oregon Live has been the leading mainstream media outlet providing coverage on cases involving Sheriff Palmer, the query did not need to extend outside the publication’s own archives!

Sheriff Palmer was one of the first and most publicized sheriffs across the nation who stood up to gun control measures proposed by the Obama administration in 2013. And in Oregon Palmer became the de facto leader and spokesperson for a host of sheriffs who had said that they would not comply with any excessive and unconstitutional gun regulation proposal:

In a letter to Vice President Joe Biden, Grant County Sheriff, Glenn Palmer writes: "I too, have taken the Oath of Office to defend and uphold the Constitution for the State of Oregon as well as the Constitution of the United States. I take my duty and responsibility seriously. The citizens of Grant County have entrusted and empowered me to represent them. We have a history with customs and cultures that will support and defend the Second Amendment as well as the Oregon Constitution. The Oath that I swore to is to support and defend our constitutions from enemies, both foreign and domestic. I will not tolerate nor will I permit any federal incursion within the exterior boundaries of Grant County, Oregon, where any type of gun control legislation aimed at disarming law abiding citizens is the goal or objective.”

Oregon Live was one of the main publications providing coverage for Sheriff Palmer’s unwavering stand against tight restrictions on gun ownership, as late as 2015:

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer called it "borderline treasonous" to pass this bill, which he said would further impinge on gun rights. He said there was no way for law enforcement to know when private parties are involved in a gun transfer and said he had "no intention" of trying to enforce the provisions of the bill if it became law.

Palmer won applause from the crowd, as did several other opponents who argued that legislators shouldn't even be considering a bill they regarded as an unconstitutional infringement on gun rights.

In February 2013 Palmer was one of four sheriffs from across the country who joined Glenn Beck on The Blaze TV to discuss the Second Amendment versus the push for more gun control legislation.

Palmer’s opposition to the Obama Administration’s intense lobbying to speedily pass new gun control laws immediately following the Sandy Hook incident received extensive coverage- from The Examiner to The Washington Times and Breitbart Report.

But most interestingly, most of the coverage of Sheriff Palmer was provided by Oregon Live.

In 2015 the outspoken Grant County Sheriff became the subject of national media coverage again in a highly suspicious incident that was never truly solved. In July 2015 the FBI investigated at least 20 letters received by law enforcement agencies across Oregon after Sheriff Palmer was hospitalized following exposure to an unidentified white powder in an envelope. Palmer was exposed to an unknown "chemical substance" after opening a letter delivered to his office, and was hospitalized and treated after developing a rash caused by the substance.  Yet, according to the FBI the suspicious letters sent to government offices throughout Oregon did not appear to contain any hazardous materials. This, despite the record of Sheriff Palmer’s hospitalization and treatment due to reaction from exposure to the suspicious envelope containing the unidentified substance. Palmer was one of three recipients who suffered actual physical reaction and a rash from exposure to the substance, requiring his hospitalization.

Oregon Live provided further coverage of the suspicious letter incident, including statements from Palmer:

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer said one of the letters caused him to suffer a physical reaction. Palmer said he didn't see any powder or white substance when he opened the letter, but he experienced a metallic taste in his mouth and felt a tingling in his arms.

"I thought, 'Oh, boy,' and went to the hospital intending to get my blood tested but they went full haz-mat mode on me," Palmer told The Oregonian/OregonLive. "They stripped me down and washed me down."

Another glaring hypocrisy shows up in the discrepancy in the way in which Oregon Live treats Grant County Sheriff Palmer versus BLM-Fed man, Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, who met with the Malheur protesters, including the Bundy’s, on several occasions:

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, backed up by two other sheriffs, met face-to-face Thursday with protest leader Ammon Bundy to try to bring a peaceful end to a weeklong occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Ward was encouraged to reach out directly to the militants at a town hall meeting Wednesday night in Burns that drew an estimated 400 people. Several speakers urged the sheriff to do just what he did Thursday, and several ranchers had volunteered to join him if needed to end the occupation.

Ward met Bundy on the side of Lava Bed Road, a handful of media surrounding the men. Bundy was accompanied by Ryan Payne, a self-styled militiaman from Montana.

Combing through the web you will come across many photo ops and narrations on Ward’s interactions with the Malheur protesters. In contrast to that, we have yet to locate a single photo or documented meeting(s) between Sheriff Glenn Palmer and the Bundy’s.  Not only that, Sheriff Palmer had insisted on remaining neutral, and deferred to Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward on anything related to the Malheur Protest:

“I had no idea who I was meeting with when we had lunch yesterday,” he said. “I walked in, I realized who they were and I sat and listened to them. ... They actually wanted me to come down there and make a stand, and I said, ‘not without the sheriff’s blessing."

Palmer said he has spoken to Harney County Sheriff David Ward and told him he would not interfere without permission. Palmer said he has “a pretty good working relationship” with the sheriff from the neighboring county. He said, however, he was not willing to do the only thing Ward would allow.

“About the only thing he really told me is I’m welcome to come down there if I would shame and humiliate them into giving up, and I said, ‘No, I won’t do that,’” Palmer said. “I’m not in the business of denouncing or shaming or humiliating anybody.”

But then again, it is apparent that Sheriff Ward has been a known guardian of BLM and subservient to the Feds, thus exempt from the ever-expanding Fed hit list. While the sheriff on the hit and grudge list has not been.

If two plus two makes four- then, one plus one plus one plus one makes it a slam-dunk four:

  1. Sheriff Palmer, in 2013, landed on the very wrong side of the Obama Administration and its Fed muscles with his unapologetic and highly public stand against the proposed disproportionate measures against the Second Amendment. That’s one.
  2. Sheriff Palmer was one of the prime targets in the mysterious case of envelopes containing a toxic substance mailed to Oregon law enforcement offices, which were handed over to the FBI for forensic investigation and never again saw the light of day. That’s one as well.
  3. Sheriff Palmer has been a strict constitutionalist- a proponent of the separation of powers, pro local authority vs federal intrusions, and a staunch defender of the sanctity of the Second Amendment. None of which is tolerated by the current federal powers. Any one enough to land him on the fed’s to-be-persecuted list. That’s definitely a one.
  4. Sheriff Palmer is now a direct target of the Federal Government’s witch-hunt, geared to set an example and destroy the last pockets of resistance and righteousness in the nation of the-no-longer-free. And that’s another one.

I don’t know about you, but in my book the sum of the above ones equals a solid four.

Now, someone please explain to me: How is it that a resourceful mainstream publication such as Oregon Live, which has an extensive and well-organized archive of its own news coverage for the last three years pertaining to Sheriff Palmer, publishes this recent one-sided article without even a single mention of the never-buried hatchet and long-held grudge by President Obama and the feds against the Sheriff? Publishes it without history, context and the real facts, that is. You tell me- because ‘they’ never do.

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*Video: Feds Settle Score against Oregon Sheriff Outspoken on Gun Control Proposal (By Spiro Skouras)

**Video2: Sibel Edmonds, Sheriff Richard Mack & Spiro Skouras on: Federal Tyranny, the Real ‘Enemies’ & Political Persecution

**Do Not wait for the mainstream and pseudo-alternative media for real coverage on this case and many others- Because they won’t. Instead, consider joining our campaign for Newsbud- A 100% People-Backed Media with Integrity: Click Here

Sibel Edmonds is editor and publisher of BFP Report, founder and president of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), and author of the acclaimed book Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, and The Lone Gladio, a Political Spy Thriller. . She is the recipient of the 2006 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award. Ms. Edmonds is a certified linguist, fluent in four languages, and has an MA in public policy from George Mason University and a BA in criminal justice and psychology from George Washington University.

An Independent Perspective from the Rally in Burns by an Anonymous Activist

It was a blistering cold day as we arose at 6:30 to head to Burns, Oregon.  We had never physically protested before, but this case was different.  It was clear to any lay person reading the information that the Feds (and the various agencies involved) were out to take Hammond's property, any way they had to.

As the drive went on, I realized I had never really cared about what it meant to see or understand what a healthy range of land looked like. I was raised a city girl, and while I had some limited exposure to horses, I never really had time or took the time to ponder it all.

When we arrived (about an hour early), I was so pleased to see many American (and other flags) in the corner of the parking lot at Safeway in Burns. I glanced up at our car temperature gage, burr, 9 degrees. I thought, it's gonna be cold! My eyes were drawn to the many people already gathered next to those flags.  A sense of long-missed pride filled my heart.

We pulled into the parking lot and saw there was no place to park, already! My Husband dropped me off at the entrance so I could purchase some flowers and water for the walk.

He went off and checked into the motel, parked our car and walked back to Safeway. He met me inside the store. We picked out our things and checked out.  Everyone in the store was friendly and helpful.  I stood in the entry way, taking off my coat to add my hoodie.  The walk in was cold, and I had on a tank, a Tshirt over that and 2 pairs of pants. I added my hoodie, put on my hat and gloves and we headed outside.

Some background information on The Rally.... It was always clearly communicated to me, and the Residents of Harney County, that this was to be a peaceful Rally. We were all doing this to support The Hammond Family, and to protest not only the Cruel and Unusual Sentence they received, but their special designation as Terrorists for burning grass.  Anyone with common sense knows that you aren't a terrorist for burning grass, especially where no structures were damaged, nor were any monies or resources expended for putting the fires out (for background information, people were encouraged to read bundyranch.blogspot.com).  I was told no "militia" insignia, no open carrying of long guns (rifles) and that if you were going to carry a weapon, carry concealed, it was a matter of respect.

As I looked around the crowd I did see some insignia, but most of it was on hats, a few jackets. I saw a couple of long guns (but they were not seen on the walk), some side arms (some of that was clearly plain clothes Law Enforcement) and I was pretty impressed. I thought, really, getting approximately 300 people to all do the same thing was nearly impossible, and maybe some did not get the instructions I did.

Speakers started to Rally the crowd. We Prayed.  Law Enforcement kind of had a look like "I drew the easy assignment today".

Ammon Bundy did speak at the podium, and a short time later passed me on the way up the hill..he seemed distracted, serious. I did not see Blaine Cooper or Jon Ritzheimer yesterday, though from their videos on YouTube they said they were here. I just figured there were so many people I just did not see them.

Dwight and Susie Hammond's house was on the route the protesters took (their ranch is about 50 miles away, their son Steven and his wife live there) and they came out to greet and thank them. The protestors left their flowers. The Rally was over. It was great and it was successful because it was peaceful and respectful, from the main group.  No disruptions occurred en route.

The 'After Rally Meeting' was set up where the other community meetings were held, at the county Fairgrounds. We arrived, and we could feel things were not right, clear out in the parking lot.  When we got inside, Pete Santilli (a YouTuber with a Radio Show, who was also at Bundy Ranch), had the microphone.  I whispered to a friend "What's going on"? They replied "Ammon, Jon, Blaine and some others captured the BLM Building out at The Preserve".

We listened to several speakers, each trying to explain to angry participants what happened. "We don't know why".  "No, we did not know they were going to do this."  "We have no idea why they chose The Preserve as their location, please be patient while we try to find out.". My Husband said "I'm uncomfortable".  We walked out.

It is a shame really. Several people, inside Harney County and out, had concerns about a different agenda evolving.  Some of the Patriots could see the possibility that there was an "undercurrent" of another agenda at play, but each time it was asked about - to various people, it was denied that it was happening.  One man I give a lot of credit to is Bj Soper.  I do not believe that it would have been as respectable as it was (most did not know about the other plan until well into the 1.2 mile planned route), had he not made a concerted effort to communicate with residents, militia and participants alike.  There are quite a few others, but I think he was exceptional here.  The problem is.. No matter your great, respectful, peaceful intentions, someone always has to be different...this time it is a doozy.

Many Patriots are feeling deceived and manipulated by what happened. Many question the motives or true agenda of those who chose to take the "hard stand" and what will be accomplished with this "hard stand".  Some believe this was a maneuver to force other Patriots to take a "hard stand” too.  Others believe it is a PSYOP.

What this Patriot knows? Good Question...

I know I am embarrassed for The Hammond's. Their name is being dragged through the National Press..not to bring their name and story to the public at large, but as a "reason" for why "other terrorists" have latched on to this case...as if their case and name confirms they must be terrorists because they "attract other terrorists" to them.  What hogwash!

I do believe this for much for sure; This president thinks that it is acceptable to write Executive Orders limiting or taking away "rights" that are codified in our Constitution as Creator-Given Rights, that no government can take away. Congress is not doing its job to reign him in. The Supreme Court thinks it writes law/usurps states' individually enacted laws.  A Formal Redress of Grievance was provided to local and state officials, asking them to investigate The Hammond's Case. They are required by law to reply.  No reply was given by any officials.  We wrote letters, signed petitions.  At what point, as a people, do we acknowledge that our government is irreversibly no longer functioning in a workable manner? Remember, any law or authority not given specifically in our Constitution is to be considered Null and Void.  I would recommend people start reading our Founding Documents, to really understand what they say.

As we traveled home, I was again looking at the Open Range...noticing how there were very few trees. As we drove into Central Oregon, where our trees are allowed to grow, our land is "settled" with lawns and peppered with non-indigenous trees, I noticed something profound.  Our settled, un-razed (a controlled burn is called razing) land did not look nearly as healthy as the land that clearly was "handled" (intentionally or not) by fire.

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