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December 14, 2017

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Bundy brothers, in jail, complain about lack of Internet service, ability to gather for prayer

Image

Thomas Patterson / The New York Times

Mike Arnold, the attorney for Ammon Bundy, one of the leaders of the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon, speaks to media Jan. 27, 2016, after reading a statement written by Bundy in Portland, Ore.

Bundy Supporters at Federal Courthouse

Cathryn Adams and other supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy gather in front of the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas Thursday, March 10, 2016. Bundy is facing charges relating to an armed ranching standoff against Bureau of Land Management agents in April 2014. Launch slideshow »

Cliven Bundy Reacts to Arrests of Sons

Rancher Cliven Bundy, right, responds to a question from a reporter at his ranch Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, near Bunkerville. In the background are family friend Corey Houston, left, and Cliven's son Mel Bundy. Launch slideshow »

Bundys Arrested in Oregon

A Oregon State police officer stands by a vehicle as police officers block Highway 395 in Seneca, Ore., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Authorities said shots were fired Tuesday during the arrest of members of an armed group that has occupied a national wildlife refuge in Oregon for more than three weeks. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP) Launch slideshow »

Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and their co-defendants could have iPads in their jail cells, as long as their attorneys preload the devices with the discovery documents and videos they need to prepare for trial, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office would arrange to have the devices charged to ensure the defendants could use them in their cells during the day.

But the jail won’t allow Internet access.

The Bundy brothers — who are among 26 defendants indicted on federal conspiracy and weapons charges — contend that’s insufficient to allow them to prepare for a Sept. 7 trial and suggested in a court filing last week that they may take legal action in state court, alleging violation of their civil rights.

Without the Internet, it would be impossible to access the web-based program Relativity that’s being used to review case evidence, the court document says.

“They attempted to work through these issues with jail staff, but now are forced to evaluate other viable options to protect their rights as citizens who stand accused with the weight of the government against them,” Ammon Bundy’s lawyer Mike Arnold wrote in a report on jail conditions filed in court.

The indictments stem from the 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. Ammon Bundy, the leader, has said he and his supporters were protesting federal control of public land.

Arnold also filed a notice with the court that he intended to back out of the case, and have Utah lawyer J. Morgan Philpot represent Ammon Bundy instead. But the federal judge handling the pending case found Philpot isn’t approved yet to practice in Oregon federal court.

Arnold, Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy’s standby counsel met recently with a jail captain and lieutenant to discuss some of their concerns.

They and other defendants asked for more access to the jail law library and desks in their respective jail cells from which to work. They also want to be allowed to see one another to discuss trial strategies and pray together.

Jailers said the defendants could have more corrections-grade, safety ink pens and buy colored pencils from the jail commissary. They can have legal pads provided by their lawyers that fit in a banker’s box, and are allowed up to three banker boxes at a time.

They can’t have desks in their cells for security reasons, but they can use a fixed shelf as a makeshift desk, the sheriff’s officers suggested, according to the court filing.

One computer is available at the jail where the Bundys are being detained. It has no keyboard, mouse or attached printer, but it is operated by a touch screen. It’s preloaded with legal resources, but it doesn’t allow for any Internet research.

Sheriff’s Capt. Derrick Peterson said he’d be willing to work, if necessary, to transport defendants to a different facility to allow for such research. But the defendants aren’t allowed to see one another, as ordered by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Although they’re not designated as a “gang” or “security threat group,” members of a group that have shown that they can “work together for a common goal” are not permitted to see one another in custody, according to the court document.

“My right to live is being violated,” defendant Ryan Bundy wrote. “All of my First Amendment rights are being violated. … I am not allowed to see my brother and move about. … This violates my freedom of assembly. … My Second Amendment rights are being violated. I never waived that right.”

Ryan Bundy, who has chosen to represent himself, wasn’t allowed to attend the meeting with the jailers to discuss his concerns. Instead, his standby counsel Lisa Ludwig did.

Ryan Bundy also asked to be able to wear religious temple garments and gather with other Mormon adherents to give and receive blessings. The jail staff said he could wear religious garments under his jail scrubs, but could not meet with others for prayer. The jail agreed to provide him and his brother with extra towels or bedding to help them kneel in prayer in their cells.

“When I say my rights are being violated, I want the court to know that all of my rights are being violated; every last one of them. I could argue that my right to life hasn’t been taken. But the FBI tried to take that right when they attempted to kill me. They missed on that one. I still have the bullet to prove that,” Ryan Bundy wrote.

Bundy was in the back seat of occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum’s truck on Jan. 26 when it was fired upon at a law enforcement roadblock. State police shot and killed Finicum after he emerged from the truck and reached at least twice for the inside of his jacket, where officers suspected he had a loaded gun. Police found a 9mm handgun on Finicum, according to the FBI and police reports.

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