Today in “Unclear on the Concept”

The subject in question is prison with the persons who are unclear being the Bundys (via TPM):  Shocker: Bundy Bros Discover That Jail Inmates Have Fewer Freedoms

Ryan Bundy wrote in the document that “my rights are being violated. My right to life is being violated. All of my First Amendment rights are being violated. My right to freedom of religion is being violated. I cannot participate in religious activities and temple covenants, and wear religious garments.”

Specifically Ryan says lack of access to talk with Ammon Bundy violates his freedom of assembly. He also argues that his Second Amendment rights have been violated, presumably because guns are not allowed in jails.

Who could have predicted that seizing federal land and then leading an armed standoff with law enforcement could have ended up like this?

Here is the quote from Ryan Bundy from the pleading filed with the court:

In Henderson, my brothers and father were housed together. Up here, they make efforts to keep us separate. This violates my right to freedom of assembly. My Second Amendment rights are being violated. I never waived that right. My Fourth Amendment rights are being violated of freedom from search and seizure without effects. They routinely look through my documents and papers without a warrant. My Sixth Amendment rights are being denied. I cannot meet with other counsel in this case without extreme difficulty. I cannot have effective assistance of counsel. 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.

In fairness, I have sympathy for the notion that he may have inadequate access to his attorney.  The notion that his Second Amendment rights come into play while he is being held is, however, one of the more absurd things I have read in a while.

A runner up (from the document also):

Given that this is a media case, Defendants need to access Facebook and email.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Quick Takes
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    As a wise man once observed, If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

  2. Mu says:

    I wish him best of luck. If he wins we’ll have to institute the Manhattan Island Maximum Security Facility. You get to argue all day long with your fellow inmates, meet with whomever you want and get shot with any weapon you can find.

  3. CSK says:

    If he’s having trouble meeting with counsel, it’s probably because counsel is avoiding him like the plague.

  4. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner: he hasn’t been convicted of a crime. He is being held before trial because he has been found to be a flight risk and dangerous to attempt to recapture, but I am entirely open to the idea that we should not be unduly and unnecessarily restricting the rights of people who have not been convicted.

    Obviously, his second amendment rights need to be curtailed because of the security threat of prisoners packin’ heat, but access to the Internet, and to his lawyers and friends should be provided.

    I sincerely wish him the best of luck on about half his complaint. There are real issues there.

    As for his desire to have his weapons to fondle and stroke in the lonely nights in jail, though… Good luck with that.

  5. stonetools says:

    Is there such a thing as redneck privilege?”Oh, I’m discriminated against because I can’t fondle my guns in jail.” Man, are his eyes are going to be opened when he gets to the federal penitentiary.

  6. @Gustopher: As I alluded to in the post, if he is truly being curtailed in his ability to offer a defense, that is a real problem. That he can’t pick his cellmate or that he does not have internet access I can’t get too worked up about (especially FB).

  7. Mister Bluster says:

    This fight is ours for now in the courts. Ammon Bundy
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/01/27/1-dead-feds-arrest-oregon-protest-leader-ammon-bundy/79392112/

    So they want to see a lawyer. Good luck with this guy.

    Rolly: Utah candidate representing Ammon Bundy loses earlier court fight, must pay nearly $6,000
    http://www.sltrib.com/home/3936182-155/rolly-utah-candidate-representing-ammon-bundy

  8. M. Bouffant says:

    Another example of the imaginary Constitution these clowns revere.

  9. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher:

    I am entirely open to the idea that we should not be unduly and unnecessarily restricting the rights of people who have not been convicted.

    As I’m I. But the restrictions in question strike me as perfectly reasonable given facts that aren’t in dispute and the finding that he’s a legitimate flight risk.

  10. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yeah, but if he has no access to Facebook, how is he going to try the case to his advantage before it reaches trial?

    Wait… ohhhhhh… never mind.

  11. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: What is the point of a pretrial detention? It isn’t to punish the accused, since they haven’t been convicted of anything yet, but simply to ensure that they show up for trial, and that they do not hurt anyone in the meantime.

    I may be out of step with America, but I think there is a responsibility for the government to provide the least disruptive pretrial detainment possible — a moral responsibility, at the very least, and potentially a legal responsibility. If something is practical to allow, and does not create a danger to guards or inmates, it should be allowed.

    We routinely curtail the rights of the accused more than we have to, and we cede far too much power to the government in the process.

    If the Supreme Court cared as much about protecting the rights of the accused as it does about protecting the free speech of the wealthy… Well, things would be better. The right to a speedy trial would be an actual right, and people might not be held in pretrial detention for so long that this matters as much.

    That said, Bundy seems like a complete schmuck. I worry far more about America than I do about Bundy.

  12. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner: why can he not speak to his family members? Why can he not access the Internet? Why is his access to his lawyer being controlled?

    None of these affect his flight risk.

  13. @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: You lost me there.

  14. @Gustopher: On the one hand, I take your point: Indeed, I think the entire prison system has serious problems.

    On the other hand, however, given the nature of the system if one is arrested and indicted in a very public armed stand-off that included a death and other serious allegations, I can’t get upset that one does not have access to the internet. Lots of people don’t have access to the internet. Nor can I see that he has a right to a specific cellmate.

    If he is being impeded in constructing his defense, that should stop.

    The problem with being a flight risk is that we only have one system for housing persons in this context, and that is the prison system. Were he not a flight risk, he could wait at home for trial.

    Maybe we need a separate system for housing persons who are indicted and awaiting trial. I could even get behind such a policy, depending on the particulars.. Of course, that requires tax dollars that are unlikely to appear any time soon.

  15. @Gustopher:

    The right to a speedy trial would be an actual right, and people might not be held in pretrial detention for so long that this matters as much.

    I do agree that this is a major problem.

  16. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Dr. Taylor: I was trying for snark, I need to adjust the settings, I see.

  17. DrDaveT says:

    The notion that his Second Amendment rights come into play while he is being held is, however, one of the more absurd things I have read in a while.

    Gee, I thought the right to keep and bear arms was an absolute, not subject to conditions or limitations or, well, thinking.

    At least, that’s what the “2nd Amendment Firsters” seem to be arguing. Incessantly.

  18. KM says:

    @Gustopher:

    If something is practical to allow, and does not create a danger to guards or inmates, it should be allowed.

    What about a danger to the general public? This whole thing came about because they incited others to invade and occupy federal land while armed and dangerous. They’ve proven their rhetoric can and will lead to armed confrontations and death and they have absolutely no problems specifically calling people to places to start a new crisis. Additionally, the internet is a privilege, mind you, since your First Amendment rights do not specify access to all channels; I can’t bitch about being denied the First because I can’t call the famous Red Phone. Whining about not being able to access Facebook is not the same as being denied contact with the outside world. If he’s bored and wants to rant online, that’s his damn problem not a god given right. I don’t see this as an unnecessary curtailing of rights but a rather practical step for someone capable of calling an armed mob to bear.

    tl;dr – Man’s a punk-ass whiner and this does not reflect on the greater situation of detainees in general. He just wants attention.

  19. Gustopher says:

    @KM: We have not proven, in a court of law, that their rhetoric leads to a greater public danger, or that the Bundy twits would abuse their free speech to incite in this situation.

    While on hypotheticals: how about if the government arrested Donald Trump on suspicion of incitement or trespass or grand schmuckery or something, and held him for up to a year or so before a trial where he was acquitted, and denied him the right to effectively speak? or Bernie Sanders. Or a bunch of environmental activists.

    The latter example has happened. You can find lots of examples where it appears the government is using pretrial detention to silence people, and disrupt organized protests — perhaps it is just a happy side effect of the system, perhaps it is by design.

    The best way to ensure our government does not abuse power is to ensure it does not have that power in the first place.

    Further, while the first amendment does not actually specify that you have a right to an audience for your speech, free speech is meaningless without it. We’re a bit inconsistent on applying that in this country, as we will have “Free Speech Zones” in metal cages far away from the political conventions this year, but we insist that pro-lifers be able to get in people’s faces and scream at them.

    And, finally, while Facebook access is not an enumerated right, it does fall under the blanket right of Privacy (of the “freedom from arbitrary government interference with your private life” definition), which was established in Roe v. Wade.

    Pretrial detention, by definition, has to impinge upon some rights, such as the right to bear arms and the right to leave, but because no one has been convicted of anything the government should be held to a higher standard where they have to demonstrate a compelling interest for the restrictions.

    Again, the Bundys are scum. But, safeguarding their rights safeguards all our rights. To paraphrase the Dude, “they’re right (in this one narrow issue), but they are assholes”

  20. @Gustopher: This is not a snarky question: do you think there ought to be special facilities for such persons that combine detention with less stringent conditions?

    I am trying to envision accomplishing what you are describing (and I am sympathetic to your basic point).

  21. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “Maybe we need a separate system for housing persons who are indicted and awaiting trial.”

    We do. It’s called “bail.” And while this is frequently and egregiously abused — keeping poor people in jail because they can’t raise cash — when bail is denied by the court there’s usually a reason for it, as there is here.

  22. @wr: Indeed, but that does not address the underlying issue that was raised.

  23. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @KM: I was being snarky before, but one concern that I have about Facebook–and I don’t play FB, so I really don’t know–is that it might be an effective means by which to contaminate a jury pool with an endless stream of Bundy rants available to anyone going to Facebook without regard to their membership in the community–as is true of the page for the church I attended in Korea or the page of a radio show that I listen to. I would guess that such a page might become viral fairly easily.

  24. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: yes, there should absolutely be separate systems for people convicted of a crime and people not convicted of a crime.

  25. Davebo says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I’m fairly certain that his complaints about access to his lawyer referred to Klayman who is not being allowed to represent the Bundys for what seemed to be pretty good reasons.

  26. Barry says:

    @Gustopher: “We have not proven, in a court of law, that their rhetoric leads to a greater public danger, or that the Bundy twits would abuse their free speech to incite in this situation.”

    Yep. Another right-winger sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo concerned about rights, once one of his ilk is in jail.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher: How about we leave them in regular jails, but a) make our jails not so awful, and b) get serious about the right to a speedy trial?

  28. Joe says:

    @Gustopher: In a more perfect world, each would be constrained only as necessary to get him safely to trial and no more. I agree with virtually every one of your goals. But we live in an imperfect world and at least the Bundys (and I don’t feel the same way about all pretrial detainees) started it. Getting their situation just right would be a lovely luxury, but their very public actions affect where their needs fall on my list of social priorities.

  29. Blue Galangal says:

    @gVOR08: If I recall, didn’t his lawyers request a delay? I might be wrong. But if they did, then his protests ring hollow (or else he’s not talking to his lawyers…). As far as his access to the internet goes, I think we’ll see – and have seen – Bundy followers and “militia” use FB to organize more armed protests, possibly putting not only law enforcement but judges, employees of the court, and civilians in danger. The flight risk is clear and why bail was denied. I think the woman who was released on bail was also restricted from using FB, wasn’t she?