Block on Trump's Asylum Ban Upheld by Supreme Court
They say that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client and Ryan Bundy seems to agree. Bundy was one of the leaders of the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last January, an occupation which ending with one occupier dead and Bundy in jail.
Now Bundy is leading his own legal defense. In a filing submitted last Thursday, Bundy claimed that he was "an idiot," and "incompetent," and demanded $100 million to stand trial.
From Sagebrush Rebellion to Sovereign Citizen
Ryan Bundy was one of several members of the Bundy family connected to the occupation of Malheur last winter. (You may remember Cliven Bundy, Ryan's father, from his long, armed standoff with the federal government over unpaid cattle grazing fees.) The wildlife refuge was taken over by armed protesters, upset at the arson convictions of two ranchers in Oregon. The group demanded that the government give up federal ownership of the refuge. Instead, most of them were arrested, with one member dying in a shootout with agents.
Ryan Bundy is accused of conspiring to lead the occupation and faces a series of felony charges. But he may have found the solution. Here's the legal argument he presented last week (sic throughout):
I, ryan c, man, am an idiot of the 'Legal Society'; and; am an idiot (layman, outsider) of the 'Bar Association'; and; i am incompetent; and; am not required by any law to be competent ... I, ryan c, man, require fair and just compensation of $1,000,000.00 for acting in any 'Role'; and; i require you to send payment in full; and; in advance, prior to [my] accepting any Role other than man, flesh and blood, made in the image of The Lord God Almighty.
A Familiar Kind of Crazy
Obviously, the filing is nuts. But it's not a unique type of nuts. Bundy seems to be borrowing legal "arguments" from the Sovereign Citizen movement, a loose agglomeration conspiracy theorists, fraudsters, and dupes who believe they are not subject to United States laws. Their peculiar view of the law is based on the theory that legitimate common law was, at some point, secretly usurped and replaced with admiralty law. Yes, admiralty law. By properly pleading their case and avoiding things like capitalized names, some believe they can escape the reach of the U.S. legal system.
We don't expect it to work for Bundy. But then again, this isn't the first time he's tried to escape the consequences of his armed occupation. In early July, Bundy was caught trying to escape from jail using a rope made of bedsheets.