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Ryan Bundy To Argue Why Oregon Governor Should Testify In Refuge Trial

<p>In several court filings, Ryan Bundy said he is "incompetent" and not subject to federal&nbsp;law.</p>

Amanda Peacher


In several court filings, Ryan Bundy said he is "incompetent" and not subject to federal law.

Thursday, Ryan Bundy will explain why he thinks Oregon Gov. Kate Brown should testify at next month’s trial in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.

Bundy is representing himself and has subpoenaed the governor, arguing in court filings that she “chose to directly involve herself in this case by actively managing the law enforcement response to the occupation.”

Bundy specifically references a Jan. 20 news conference at which Brown urged “federal law enforcement authorities to act immediately and prosecute.”

Much of the law enforcement response was managed by the FBI.

The governor's lawyers don’t think she should be forced to testify.

“Mr. Bundy asserts, without foundation, that Governor Brown was ‘actively managing the law enforcement response to the occupation,’” Oregon Department of Justice attorney Marc Abrams wrote in a Tuesday court filing.

“He provides no affidavit, no declaration, and no documentary evidence,” Abrams wrote. “His entire support for that conclusion is to quote from a single Oregon Public Broadcasting news article summarizing the Governor’s comments. Those comments, contrary to Mr. Bundy’s claim, show no intent, no action that was ‘management’ of federal law enforcement, over whom the Governor has no authority.”

Abrams contends that the governor’s testimony is not essential to Bundy’s defense and that his subpoena “should be quashed in its entirety.”

In his written response, Bundy contends that the governor communicated directly with law enforcement agencies about the occupation.

“Although she may have also communicated through intermediaries, she chose to give press conferences and was included or carbon-copied on email chains (produced in discovery) discussing the perceived threat (and costs) presented by the occupiers,” Bundy wrote in court filings.

A spokesman for the governor declined to comment, citing the ongoing court arguments.

Also this week, Ryan Bundy was granted an additional member to his legal team.

Montana lawyer Roger Roots will serve as a “volunteer paralegal” working alongside Bundy and court-appointed stand-by counsel Lisa Ludwig.

Roots has run as a Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate in Montana and has in the past been associated with white supremacists in the state. According to a Montana Human Rights Network newsletter from May 2012, Roots authored a pamphlet in the early 1990s that “stated whites are more intelligent than people of color and suggested people of color should be classified as a different species."

Roots said he no longer holds those views. In June 2014, he told the Billings Gazette, “I haven’t uttered a racist remark in 15 years.”

On his website, Roots wrote that “’My Client Is Liberty!’”

“Never in American history has government had so much unchecked power to hurt people as it does now,” the website states. “Few lawyers are prepared to challenge the modern government leviathan. I view the struggle against government as a lawyer’s highest duty.”

Roots spoke briefly in court Tuesday, telling U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown that he was honored to be in the court and he is a member of the Rhode Island Bar. Bundy said he was glad to welcome Roots as a member of his legal team.

The government has accused defendants of conspiring to impede federal employees from doing their jobs at the wildlife refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service near Burns. Jury selection in the trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 7.

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Conrad Wilson is a reporter and producer covering criminal justice and legal affairs for OPB.