Local leaders, law experts share thoughts on standoff verdict - KPTV - FOX 12

Local leaders, law experts share thoughts on standoff verdict

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Local leaders are reacting to the acquittal of seven participants involved in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, including the man many call the leader of the standoff.

Ammon and Ryan Bundy, as well as their co-defendants, faced multiple charges in connection with the occupation, including conspiracy.

The trial made national headlines, as did the news that a jury acquitted all seven defendants.

Tung Yin, a law professor at Lewis and Clark College, said he was surprised by the decision, and that he wasn't the only one with that feeling.

“I thought I misheard. I was quite surprised,” he said. “There's some disconnect between how the professional class looked at this case and the evidence and how the jury did. The question is why?”

Yin explained that in the eyes of the jury this wasn't a clear-cut case. Some experts are pointing to the charges that prosecutors decided to indict the defendants on as something that should have been helpful.

“Conspiracy is actually great for prosecutors, usually,” Yin said. “Because all you have to do is prove that the defendants made an agreement to do an unlawful act.”

In the eyes of the jury, though, the prosecution did not make a strong enough case.

Both Oregon gubernatorial candidates weighed in on the ruling, with Governor Kate Brown saying she respects the jury’s decision but was disappointed.

"The occupation of the Malheur refuge by outsiders did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to solve differences.

I appreciate the due diligence of our federal partners and stand with the communities of Harney County and residents of Burns."

Republican candidate Dr. Bud Pierce in a statement Friday spoke of his faith in the legal system.

"I have the full faith and confidence in the American legal system and judicial process, which found the individuals not guilty of the charges made against them. We will move forward with the verdict."

Moving forward, some critics of the verdict are concerned about what it could mean for the future and for the potential of other occupations. Yin said he believes those facilities would still be safe.

“Does this mean you can now go and carry a gun and take over a federal courthouse or whatever and not be charged with a crime? No. It does not mean that,” he said.

Ammon and Ryan Bundy are still in custody, facing charges related to a standoff in 2014 at the ranch owned by their father, Cliven Bundy, in Nevada.

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