PORTLAND, Ore. — U.S. District Judge Anna Brown warned Ammon Bundy’s lawyer that she will hold him in contempt of court if he keeps trying to bring up Robert “LaVoy” Finicum’s death in front of jurors.
Police fatally shot Finicum, the occupation spokesman, on Jan. 26 during a traffic stop north of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The judge has repeatedly said this trial is about whether Bundy and his co-defendants engaged in a conspiracy during last winter’s armed occupation of the refuge.
The judge told Bundy lawyer Marcus Mumford on Thursday that she will fine him $1,000 each time he raises the Finicum issue while questioning witnesses.
“I have ruled on this issue and it appears to me you disregard it,” Brown told him while jurors were away.
“Do you understand what I’m saying … yes or no?” the judge asked.
“I don’t understand. Your honor says I’m asking improper questions?” Mumford said.
The judge reminded Mumford that he had just tried to question a rancher whose property is adjacent to the refuge about the Finicum shooting.
“You are not to do that,” Brown said.
“You’re telling me I’m allowed to inquire about the shooting, but not the circumstances of the shooting?” Mumford asked.
Brown reminded Mumford that he can’t mention anything about the Finicum shooting, beyond that it occurred and the date.
“I can understand the words,” Mumford said.
“I hope you can comply,” the judge replied.
The trial resumes Monday after a three-day weekend.
The government plans to conclude its case by Tuesday afternoon. Defense lawyers are expected to start presenting their side Wednesday.
The seven defendants are charged with conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs at the remote bird sanctuary. Five of them are also charged with possession of a firearm in a federal facility.
They occupiers wanted the federal government to free two ranchers imprisoned for arson and relinquish control of Western lands.
See a timeline of events leading up Cliven Bundy’s conflict with the Bureau of Land Management in 2014. Also, see the most recent reports involving Bundy and his family.