PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Ammon Bundy intended the takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge to lead to a civil court taking up the constitutionality of federal land-management policy, according to court documents filed Monday.
The 40-year-old leader of the occupation didn’t expect arrests and indictments, documents said. Instead, Bundy thought the government would issue a refuge eviction claim, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported (http://goo.gl/e5O0wO).
Bundy is now asking in documents for the indictments to be dismissed, arguing the federal government lacks jurisdiction over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
His lawyers in the 33-page motion say Bundy isn’t an extremist or a member of any militia and doesn’t hold anti-government views.
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“Defendant Ammon Bundy organized his fellow citizens in protest of the expansive and unsupported interpretation of the Constitution that purports to allow the federal government to own and control more territory, and exercise jurisdiction over more land in the Western States, than the States themselves,” lawyers Lissa Casey and Mike Arnold wrote in the motion.
Bundy is one of more than two dozen people facing federal indictment after a 41-day armed protest at the sanctuary in eastern Oregon. During the occupation that started Jan. 2, they demanded the government turn over the land to locals and release two ranchers imprisoned for setting fires.
A Jan. 26 traffic stop led to Bundy’s arrest and the shooting death of occupier Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.
Bundy has entered a not guilty plea to charges of conspiring to impede federal officers from doing work at the refuge through intimidation, threats or force, possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon at a federal facility and using and carrying a firearm in the course of a violent crime.
The new court documents also claim Bundy and others decided to take over the refuge at an impromptu Jan. 2 meeting after a rally in the town of Burns.
Prosecutors disagree and have said Bundy and co-defendant Ryan Payne visited the local sheriff last fall, warning of “extreme civil unrest” if the ranchers were returned to prison on federal arson charges.
The Bundy motion is among legal motions in the pending federal conspiracy case that are set be argued in court starting May 23.
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com