MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

The Absurdly Harsh Penalties That Sparked the Oregon Rancher Protest

A federal judge rejected mandatory minimums for Dwight and Steven Hammond as unconstitutional; an appeals court disagreed.

KOIN-TVKOIN-TVAs Ed Krayewski noted yesterday, the armed men who are occupying an office building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon broke off from a demonstration protesting the sentences received by two ranchers, 73-year-old Dwight Hammond and his 46-year-old son Steven, who in 2001 and 2006 set fires on their own property that spread to public land. In addition to the long-running conflict between ranchers and the federal government over control of land in the West, the case illustrates the practical impossibility of challenging harsh mandatory minimum sentences as violations of the Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishments."

The first fire set by the Hammonds, which Steven Hammond said was intended to eliminate invasive species on their property, ended up consuming 139 acres of federal land. The second fire, which was aimed at protecting the Hammonds' winter feed from a wildfire sparked by lightning, burned about an acre of public land. Although the Hammonds did not seek the required government permission for either burn, the damage to federal land seems to have been unintentional. In 2012 they were nevertheless convicted under 18 USC 844(f)(1), which prescribes a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who "maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive," any federal property.

Viewing that penalty as clearly unjust given the facts of the case, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan instead imposed a three-month sentence on Dwight Hammond, who was convicted of one count, and two concurrent one-year sentences on Steven Hammond, who was convicted of two counts. Those terms were within the ranges recommended by federal sentencing guidelines that would have applied but for the statutory minimum, which Hogan rejected as inconsistent with the Eighth Amendment. In 2014 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, responding to a government appeal, disagreed with Hogan, saying he had no choice but to impose five-year sentences on both men, since "a minimum sentence mandated by statute is not a suggestion that courts have discretion to disregard." That is why the Hammonds, who had already completed their original sentences, were ordered back to federal prison, the development that led to Saturday's protest.

In rejecting Hogan's conclusion that the mandatory minimum was unconstitutional as applied to the Hammonds, the 9th Circuit noted that the Supreme Court "has upheld far tougher sentences for less serious or, at the very least, comparable offenses." The examples it cited included "a sentence of fifty years to life under California's three-strikes law for stealing nine videotapes," "a sentence of twenty-five years to life under California's three-strikes law for the theft of three golf clubs," "a forty-year sentence for possession of nine ounces of marijuana with the intent to distribute," and "a life sentence under Texas's recidivist statute for obtaining $120.75 by false pretenses." If those penalties did not qualify as "grossly disproportionate," the appeals court reasoned, five years for accidentally setting fire to federal land cannot possibly exceed the limits imposed by the Eighth Amendment.

In other words, since even worse miscarriages of justice have passed constitutional muster, this one must be OK too. Given the binding authority of the Supreme Court's precedents, the 9th Circuit's legal reasoning is hard to fault. But it highlights the gap between what is legal and what is right, a gap that occasionally inspires judges to commit random acts of fairness.

Addendum: As Ryan Cooper points out on Twitter, federal prosecutors argued that, contrary to Steven Hammond's account, the 2001 fire was aimed at covering up evidence of poaching on federal land. The 9th Circuit noted that a teenaged relative who barely escaped the flames "testified that Steven had instructed him to drop lit matches on the ground so as to 'light up the whole country on fire.'"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Adans smith||

    The feds 'own' far too much land in the west.

  • Tony||

    Thus it's OK for some guy to steal it.

  • Bryan C||

    Doesn't make it ok. But it also doesn't mean I have to rush to the defense of the poor beleaguered federal government.

  • FaithBasedHater||

    No but you defend the judicial process. I would be on your side had these men been convicted without trial by jury. There was nothing arbitrary about this. They were given a fair trial by the jury of their peers, neighbors, and fellow citizens. The jury heard the arguments, defenses, and the evidence.

    They did the crime. That's the verdict. You don't get to second guess it from your desktop computer.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    They were given a fair trial by the jury of their peers, neighbors, and fellow citizens. The jury heard the arguments, defenses, and the evidence.

    They did the crime. That's the verdict.

    No, they struck a plea deal with the DoJ, and the DoJ got their knickers in a twist because the judge thought sentencing the Hammonds to the mandatory minimum wasn't warranted. So the DoJ went crying to the pinkos on the Ninth Circus to get their pound of flesh the judge denied them.

    You don't get to second guess it from your desktop computer.

    Right, because the government has never fucked up a conviction and has always been above board in its prosecutions. Get the fuck out of here with that smug condescension. God forbid that the DoJ honor its plea deals even when the judge doesn't give them the punishment they want. But hey, you love yourself some mandatory minimum sentences for superficial bullshit, don't you.

  • Rational Exhuberance||

    People aren't protesting the judicial process, they are protesting the law: the pressure to plea bargain and the unreasonable minimum sentences. Yes, we do get to "second guess" our laws, and we get to protest them.

  • FarAlSamShaidar||

    If the law is unjust and we have no success changing it through elections, we should respect the law because it's backed up by the holy judicial process?

    By the way, as has been pointed out, there was no jury. But even if there was - jury determines guilt, not sentence. Sentencing is up to judges, and the asinine concept of minimum sentences.

  • Will Nonya||

    Can I second guess it from my phone? :)

    Seriously the main issue here needs to be the mandatory minimums. They are meant to be a deterrent but they only deter those who wouldn't be subjected to them anyway. The end result is severe punishment for the stupid or unlucky.

  • VangelV||

    How is it fair to try them as terrorists? Try using the dictionary my friend.

  • ConstitutionFirst||

    Conflating a little burnt grass with bombing a Federal building? Really?
    At some point we have to say no to the madness.
    1984 took a little while longer to arrive, but arrive it has.

  • block30||

    Indeed, and I like your user name.

  • Butler||

    No one stole any land. The question here is whether mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years is constitutional under the 8th amendment for accidental (at least, that's what the district court found) spreading of a fire onto public land. If that fire had spread onto private land, it would have been simple trespass. Do you think there's a 5 year MINIMUM criminal penalty for trespass? If there were, would that be okay with you? If not, why is trespass to government property any different? If anything, trespass to property owned by government should be less, since it's "publicly" owned.

  • Chip Chipperson||

    Controlled burns lit by the feds spread onto private land ALL THE TIME -- sometimes even resulting in serious property damage and injury -- and with zero consequence to the federal government or its employees. But a rancher does it -- harmlessly -- and it's mandatory five years in prison.

    Fact is that the federal government has been trying to get these people off their land since the 1980s, because they want the ranch property to be part of some giant federal refuge. The Hammonds didn't sell, and the feds have been trying to destroy them ever since.

    This is just the culmination of a years-long effort. It's a fucking disgrace.

  • DuplicationCube||

    Do you have a reference for that? Just curious, not trying to argue.

  • PaulW||

    What exactly is unbelievable about that post?

    Feds trying to steal land, or Feds destroying private property with no recourse?

    Not trying to be a dick, but... seriously...

  • sofubar||

    Pretty sure he just wants to learn more about it.

  • trutherator||

    Since when have the Feds been unfair or underhanded or invaded land that didn't belong to them?? After all, it's only been about 345,123,456,456,123,478 times!

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    I thought property rights were optional for Progtards like Tony?

  • PaulW||

    Seriously, Tony, you haven't killed yourself yet? I'm disappointed.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Tony!

    We missed ya!

    Well, not really.

    Fuck off, Slaver.

  • FaithBasedHater||

    There was a trial and the state proved to a jury of the defendant's peers that the crime had been committed. All the arguments, evidence, and defenses have been made and they were convicted by you and me. It's over. Stop trying to undermine the justice system. It worked.

  • MSimon||

    The argument is not about the "crime". It is about the law and the sentence.

  • Dilligaf||

    I think "unconstitutionally occupy" is the more accurate term.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't want to live in a world where an informed court system acts as a check against careless legislation at the point it's applied. When crafting laws, legislators have all the specifics they need. Specifically, what will get them (or at least not lose them) votes.

  • Robert||

    No, I think in a case like this, the statute's being applied in an absurdly literal manner to a situation the legislators did not contemplate.

  • toolkien||

    Who do you mean by "you"? You don't happen to be a standard liberal/progressive who confuses libertarians with Republicans, do you?

  • PaulW||

    I think you misspelled fascist clown.

  • sofubar||

    Certainly he did.

  • Chip Chipperson||

    Huh? Who demanded what now?

  • RickCaird||

    Isn't "malicious" a modifier and can't we argue that since it was an accident, it was not malicious?

  • FarAlSamShaidar||

    Here here.

  • retiredfire||

    Second word in the statute: maliciously
    If the fire damage to the federal land, but at no cost to the almighty government, was not intentional, then malice can't be shown.
    Since a good portion of the rest of this Title deals with explosives, it is clear this was another of those "anti terror" laws that they overreached into other crimes, so that draconian punishments can be imposed if almighty FEDGOV so decides.

  • Bitterlawyer||

    You have a poor understanding of the term malice. The consequence needn't be intended, merely the act. It isn't as though the Hammonds had discarded a cigarette which accidentally started a fire, the intentionally set a fire. Even ignoring that, it was not disputed that the 2006 fires were set on public land, not private, and the hunting party who witnessed the 2001 fire and admissions of Hammonds nephew refute the notion that the 2001 fire was not intended to burn federal property

  • Mizchief||

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted

  • ||

    How is the Constitution a limit on govt. if it decides when it is violating, e.g., it defines "excessive fines...cruel and unusual punishments..."? Clearly, this was overlooked when the American govt. structure was drawn up. Also, the act of voting doesn't work when all candidates can promise the moon and deliver nothing, or make things worse. Isn't it time to abolish govt., i.e., abolish authoritarianism, and try voluntarism?

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    Shorter 9th: we fucked other people pretty bad, so fuck you too.

  • Akira||

    That's why I think that the opposition to slippery slope arguments are misguided. When the courts will cite a previous ruling as an excuse for a similar ruling right at this moment, it's not hard to see how one injustice can lead to many, many more injustices of even greater severity.

    Hell, in the minds of most people, a valid line of reasoning is "this is already done in one area, so it's OK". Remember all the times that "progressives" have said "well, we regulate A, so why not regulate B the same way?" A short while later: "We regulate B, so why not impose similar regulations for C?" ad infinitum.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I've always "fenced off" the idea that the "slippery slope" is a fallacy when it comes to politics. The "slippery slope" is a logical fallacy, but what is logical about the way people practice politics in our society? Indeed, they generally seek to avoid logic. They insist that the slope should be slippery.

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    I've never understood how it's a fallacy at all. It can be improperly used, but it's not intrinsically wrong the way a non-sequitur is.

  • UCrawford||

    Non-sequitur is not always intrinsically wrong either...it can simply be an incompletely stated argument needing further clarification.

  • PaulW||

    In my experience the slippery slope is more often correct than it is not. I concur that it should not be a logical fallacy, especially when it concerns illogical beings such as Democrats and Republicans.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    People tend to misapply the slippery slope fallacy. It is entirely reasonable to argue that A could lead to B, which could lead to D, etc. This is not necessarily a slippery slope fallacy. The fallacy only comes in where there is no logical connection between A and B. That is to say that there is no decent argument to be made that A and B are similar, linked, or have any relationship that would have A cause B.

    "Regulating cigarettes shows that the government will regulate anything. It is only a matter of time before they regulate everything." - slippery slope

    "Regulating cigarettes is unnecessary and demeaning to our freedom and individual agency and choices. If you are going to regulate cigarettes, why not regulate alcohol? Our food? Our Clothes? The same argument for cigarettes could be applied to almost anything." - this is not a slippery slope.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery_slope

    It's the warrant that's important. Can it reasonably be argued that A can (or will) lead to B, C, etc.

  • PaulW||

    The whole problem is that it generally cannot be reasonably argued... but that is what happens anyway.

    How the fuck do you get from bombing and setting ablaze federal buildings to starting a brush fire that accidentally burns some federal land being the same thing? You don't. It is not reasonable at all.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    DRINK!

  • ace_m82||

    A slippery-slope is a "fallacy" in that it isn't deductively true (it won't always happen). What a slippery-slope is, ignoring ridiculous uses, is an inductively true argument (in that it almost always happens).

    If the Feds mandate gay marriage on the States, then they will eventually mandate polygamous marriage.

    Now, this isn't metaphysically true. The Feds could draw a ridiculous line and somehow "logically" defend it in court. However, this is almost certainly going to be a true statement as there is literally nothing stopping it now except a little time.

  • zaq.hack||

    Exactly. Go cry for Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, or Mike Brown who were kill by bad actions of the state. But it is not possible that the Bureau of Land Management would ever misbehave, so your grievances are moot.

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    Also, when did we abandon mens rea as a legal guiding principle?

  • some guy||

    A little before we starting seriously regulating commercial activity. Well, maybe long before, but that's when it really became obvious.

  • Agammamon||

    Definitely no later than the start of the War on Drugs.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Also, when did we abandon mens rea as a legal guiding principle?

    January 20, 2009.

  • GamerFromJump||

    Given that the whole incident seems accidental, not "malicious", as the code says, it seems like the sentence is unwarranted.

    But I'm just an English teacher. I'm still a bitter clinger to the idea that words have actual meanings.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Join the party.

  • Robert Riversong||

    How about these words: Steven Hammond gave his nephew a box of matches and told him to "start the whole country on fire" in order to cover up evidence that he had slaughtered an entire herd of deer on public land. And Steven Hammond started an illegal backfire, during a fire ban, while firefighters were fighting the lightning fire upslope and were put at risk of their lives by the reckless attempt to protect private rangeland.

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    Is that in court testimony? Can you link to the record so we can see it in context.

    Because I could say Robert Riversong said he was going to physically assault me and then show up with a black eye. doesnt mean you assaulted me.

  • sarcasmic||

    Prosecutors spin some colorful yarns when they take advantage of their full immunity against crimes like lying in court.

  • Kevin Sorbos Manful Locks||

    I am Robert Riversong's nephew and confirm that he told me to "start the whole eye to swelling" in order to cover up evidence of mexican ass sex and pot parties.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Then Judge Hogan must have been in on it.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    He was the guiding force behind a truly shitty new courthouse.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    he had slaughtered an entire herd of deer on public land

    I can see onesie, twosie poaching but slaughtering an entire herd for what purpose? Mental disease? Trophies? They're out in proghorn country or failing that, elk, but deer?

  • R C Dean||

    Take it from someone who participated in herd reduction in Wisconsin following their outbreak of chronic wasting disease:

    This isn't possible. The prosecutor is lying.

  • Ogre||

    How about these words:

    You : Steven Hammond gave his nephew a box of matches and told him to "start the whole country on fire"

    Provably untrue, and coerced testimony from a mentally ill person. The same nephew that claimed that Steven Hammon 'carved his intials into the nephew's chest with a paperclip. and then removed the initials with sandpaper'... which is two physical impossibilities.

    You: in order to cover up evidence that he had slaughtered an entire herd of deer on public land.

    Alleged, and unproven. first it's 'a deer' then 'two deer' then 'an entire herd'. make up your mind, people.

    You: And Steven Hammond started an illegal backfire, during a fire ban, while firefighters were fighting the lightning fire upslope and were put at risk of their lives by the reckless attempt to protect private rangeland.

    Yes, he did start one. He even pled guilty in court to it. Mind you, the alternative was to let the lightning fire
    that took advantage of the BLM's failure to manage controlled burns (which are -needed-, and the BLM fails to do them), burn his ranch to the ground. given the choice between 'illegal burn' and 'lose everything'... well, I know which way I'd chose. Also, got any citations for that claim about risking firefighter's lives?

    TL,DR - you know nothing, John Snow.

  • Ama-Gi Anarchist||

    Except that its been noted that Dusty Hammond may not have been competent (he is noted to be estranged from his family and has a history of mental illness).

  • PaulW||

    From the letter of the law, it says maliciously destroys, or attempts to destroy.

    I'm no legal scholar, but that is easily interpreted as two different things, especially with the comma in there.

  • Dan S.||

    Are you suggesting that it matters whether "maliciously" modifies "attempts to destroy", or only "destroys"? Since "attempts" certainly implies intent, I doubt that it does.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    I'm no legal scholar, but that is easily interpreted as two different things, especially with the comma in there.

    Since when have commas been dispositive?

    See: Amendment, 2nd.

  • Galactic Chipper Cdr Lytton||

    the Hammonds, who had already completed their original sentences

    By any common sense reasoning, which obviously excludes the judicial system, this would violate both the spirit and letter of the double jeopardy prohibition in the Fifth Amendment.

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    I guess they could get off on the technicality that the appeal was pending, so the sentence was still in question.

    If they wanted to comply with th spirit of the law, they should have held off on the punishment until the appeal had been heard.

    It's also ironic that part of the plea deal is that the defendants would not appeal the sentence...but the Feds immediately did just that when the judge didn't drop the hammer as expected. In that respect the defense attorney really fucked up.

  • Galactic Chipper Cdr Lytton||

    Yes he(or she) did.

    I do thing there's something wrong with the prosecution appealing a sentence after it's been handed down, and most certainly after the sentence has been completed. The benefit of a fuck up in a criminal court case should go to the defendant, not be appealable after the fact. One bite at the apple.

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    Agreed.

    To the appeal timeline, I do think they filed the appeal immediately after the sentence was issued, not after it was completed. Not that it makes that much difference ethically, but just to set the record straight.

  • R C Dean||

    I guess they could get off on the technicality that the appeal was pending, so the sentence was still in question.

    That would only work if the sentence had been suspended pending appeal, IMO.

  • Voros McCracken||

    It would seem to me that this would definitely be the logical and proper thing to do. But of course none of this is about logic or justice.

    This whole thing is a shitshow.

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    By any common sense reasoning

    I really don't see what any of this has to do with gun control.

    It's been generations since courts of law have constituted anything other than judges applying weird statutes to a citizenry who routinely awake to discover themselves victims of the institutions that are purportedly there to protect them. Nullification has never been more important.

    A real judge, someone widely recognized to possess an innate sense of fairness, would never be forced to serve up ridiculous "arson" sentences like those in this case in the first place.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I really don't see what any of this has to do with gun control."

    OMG, you are such a racist homophobe!

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    OMG, you are such a racist homophobe!hoplophobe!

    FTFY

  • Robert Riversong||

    The Hammonds were NOT tried twice for the same offense. It was on appeal that the sentence was correctly overturned and applied according to the will of Congress.

    The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, because the appellate decision was perfectly constitutional.

  • WTF||

    The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, because the appellate decision was perfectly constitutional.

    Why yes, of course, there could be no other reason! Mmmmmm, that's some good derp.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Double jeopardy is about about being punished twice for the same crime. The original sentence was completed and the Hammonds were released.

  • Frankjasper1||

    It is amazing people cant grasp this concept

  • Mark6||

    People can, lawyers can't

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    People can, lawyers can't Progtards can't
  • GamerFromJump||

    SAME THING!

  • Dan S.||

    "Double jeopardy" is about being tried twice for the same crime. Since there was only one trial, it is not legally "double jeopardy", even if the result seems similar.

    Then again, Double Jeopardy is also part of a certain game show. I'll take Oregon for $400, Alex.

  • Kevin Sorbos Manful Locks||

    You may take Oregon for $400, but Oregon will take you for 1 + X years and your property to boot!

  • Ted S.||

    Thank you, Tulpa.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Oh, fuck me. I've been arguing with that POS?

  • Warren's Strapon||

    It has been instructive to watch people suddenly embrace mandatory minimums.

  • Ama-Gi Anarchist||

    Isn't Tulpa one of the resident Progtards? Funny how Proggies loves them some Mandatory Minimums when its used to "stick it to conservatives"......

  • PaulW||

    They love them when they're stuck to blacks too.

    Funny how the supermajority the Dems had only led to Obamacare, isn't it?

  • retiredfire||

    Since when does the prosecution get to appeal a conviction?
    There have been many cases of judges handing down minimal sentences and the prosecutors gnashing their teeth, but little else.
    Statutes written to, ostensibly, fight terrorism, being used to round up "ordinary criminals" is one of the reasons FEDGOV is looked upon as being draconian in its use of such things as the Patriot Act.
    The people don't mind laws to fight terrorism but when they are used to defy many of the protections that have been built up. Such things as probable cause, due process, privacy, etc. it signals a lack of regard for citizens intent on keeping America America, versus those whose intent is its destruction.

  • Galactic Chipper Cdr Lytton||

    OT: Even though ticket pricing authority expired over 32 years ago, DOT is still calculating the maximum allowable amounts and updating their web page.

    Nothing left to cut.

  • perlchpr||

    Wow. That's special.

    Still, given the subject of the main thread on this article, I wish more gov't employees were doing completely pointless shit like this, rather than being out and available to fuck with people.

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    it highlights the gap between what is legal and what is right

    It's not a gap if there's no spatial relationship between the two at all.

    "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

    As much as I want to admire the Bundys for taking a stance, this is real Irwin Schiff territory. If they make it out alive, they will have a prosecutorial target on their backs for a generation. And if they don't, how many days did Janet Reno and Bill Clinton spend in prison after killing 75 Branch Davidians, and how many social movements did that incident spark?

    We don't need martyrs; we need people who will fight the state in philosophy, in court, and in editorials.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    So far, the people doing all the fighting are individuals, alone with what resources they have to hand, versus the entire government behemoth. No wonder we're all losing rights hand over fist. It takes one to establish a precedent, and no one gives a crap what happens to one person unless that one person is themselves.

  • Harun||

    So, how do you get your story into the press?

    Riot. Occupy. Show up with guns.

    They got this story to go national. They succeeded.

  • Suicidy||

    We don't need martyrs. We need a full on revolution against these people. Progressives have to go.

  • double ham fisted||

    According to the information on the government's website the fires were started in an effort to hide the fact that the younger Hammond had illegally killed some deer on BLM property. I think being sent back to jail after release is FUBAR but it seems disingenuous to say these guys were just lighting fires to keep some weeds at bay.

    Maybe the deer killings didn't happen and as noted before maybe the defense atty really screwed up and should have had the language more accurately reflect the reality of the situation.

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    According to the information on the government's website

    According to the Romans, Jesus had it coming.

    The poaching thing is an especially silly bit in the prosecutors' case if you read about how they "established" it in court a decade after the fact.

  • Cyto||

    According to websites friendly to the Hammonds, their attorney did not get to present their side of the story. They say that the prosecution got 6 days of testimony, and the defense was only allowed one. Their expert witnesses were not allowed to testify.

    There is a long backstory of the BLM using strongarm tactics to take over other ranches in the area, and to force the Hammonds to sell.

    One interesting tidbit that might auger in favor of the ranchers: As a part of this case they were ordered to pay around a half million bucks. They were also forced to sign over a right of first refusal to the BLM on the sale of their property. Since they cannot work their land and they have to come up with the money this year or be forced to sell.

    So there is a good chance the BLM will end up with their land. Which is what the nutty conspiracy theorists have been claiming is the whole point in the first place.

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    There is a long backstory of the BLM using strongarm tactics to take over other ranches in the area, and to force the Hammonds to sell.

    This has been making the rounds:

    https://imgur.com/uEra9pL

  • sarcasmic||

    That's pretty depressing.

  • Ron||

    wow typical private citizens created a great place that the Birds like. the federal government likes it as well so confiscates but bumbles the job and the birds leave to whats left now the feds want that so they can screw it up as well. not a conspiracy but a fact who would have guess that the government would screw something up.

  • sarcasmic||

    Being that the government steals more wealth from citizens under the guise of forfeiture than is stolen by non-government criminals, this doesn't surprise me one bit.

  • Jerryskids||

    "Asset forfeiture" affects everybody in a much bigger way than most people think when you consider that the most valuable asset many of us have is what is known as "human capital". The cost of taxation you can easily see, the cost of regulation is there if you look for it but the unseen opportunity costs easily double those costs and few people realize they're there. What wealth could be created if we didn't have to spend so much money and manpower and brainpower dealing with complying with taxes and regulations and ways to avoid taxes and regulation? Who knows? The wealth didn't get created because the government took it so nobody notices its absence.

  • sarcasmic||

    The opportunity cost of regulation is staggering. By some estimates we would be twice as wealthy as a nation if not for the efforts by government to stop people from engaging in economic activity.

  • Whahappan?||

    Some estimates put it at 4 times as wealthy.

  • Cyto||

    I suppose that all depends on your baseline. All of these things compound over time. If the rate of growth is half of what it would otherwise be, 10 years later you would be twice as wealthy. 20 years later it would be 4 times. 30 years later it would be 8 times....

    Opportunity cost is a slow drip that pushes the Utopian future away at an exponential rate.

    (full disclosure: I made up the time period for doubling of wealth because I'm too lazy to do the math right now. But the concept is sound.)

  • perlchpr||

    I don't think it would be unreasonable to put the baseline at the start of the second industrial revolution. That's when our potential for wealth creation really exploded. Plus, I'll just start weeping uncontrollably if we put it at the start of the first industrial revolution in 1760, and think about how amazingly wealthy we could all be now, even compared to where we are.

  • SimonD||

    There is an algorithm to determine the length of time that an investment would take to double. It's called the rule of 72. The number of years it would take an investment to double is equal to 72/x (x = the percentage rate of growth). So if you assume growth is decreased by 3 percent per year, it would take 24 years for the expected rate to double. (It's not an exact analogy, but it's close enough)

  • GamerFromJump||

    I can even see where SOME regulation might be needed to avoid chunky water and smog that can be seen from space, but surely something slightly less than "total strangulation" can be managed?

  • perlchpr||

    The aspect of this I always wonder about is the compounding effect of taxation.

    That is to say, If I earn $100k in a year, I only see on the order of $65k of it. Out of that $65k, I could spend something like $30k to buy a new Mustang. But Ford has to pay taxes on the sale of the Mustang. And when they bought the steel to make the Mustang from, the steel company had to pay taxes on the sale of the steel. And in order to make the steel, the steel company had to buy iron ore from a mining company, that had to pay taxes on the sale of the ore. And then it gets really circular, because in order to mine the ore, the mining company had to buy dump trucks and bulldozers and whatnot, made out of steel and rubber and the like, all of which the companies that made them had to pay taxes on the sale of, and so on and so forth.

    It just makes me wonder, in the absence of all this fucking taxation, how much would that Mustang cost?

  • double ham fisted||

    This side of the story was something that I hadn't seen. As with most things the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

    The most frustrating thing about the comments on this site is you seemingly have to provide your bona fides to make any comment. Yes, I think the government employees lie. Yes, I think these people are probably getting fucked. No, i do not think government employees always lie. Yes, I believe in small government and adherence to the constitution and BOR and probably those other amendments too.

    I have a lot to learn and a lot of thinking to do to really come down on a concrete position on this and other issues. the comment section here has helped me quite a bit in thinking about things from a different POV. maybe I am just not cut out for commenting.

  • sarcasmic||

    No, i do not think government employees always lie.

    Maybe some day you'll know better.

  • double ham fisted||

    maybe

  • perlchpr||

    Enh, sometimes even government employees order lunch.

    "I want a tuna sandwich."

  • Deep Lurker||

    They lie even then: That government employee really wanted a roast beef sandwich, but it would have been politically incorrect and/or contrary to the government's nutrition guidelines to admit it.

  • Jerryskids||

    As with most things the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

    Your mistake is in looking for objective truth, assuming that there is a black-and-white reality rather than just an infinite array of gray. If we could just see the Truth, we could see how things should be and create a Paradise on Earth. But there is no Truth, no absolutes that apply to everybody, we're not machines you can fix just so. We all have our own tastes and our own opinions and what's right for you may not be right for me. Find your own truth and leave others to find theirs and understand even conflicting views can both be true.

    Human beings are both angels and demons, but it's not that some are angels and some demons, we all are good-hearted people capable of being led by our good intentions to do things the consequences of which are indistinguishable from the results of the evil intent of the most black-hearted evil bastard imaginable. We mean well, but we're fuck-ups. Maybe better not to try so hard "helping" other people because there's at least a 50/50 chance you're just going to make things worse.

    Of course, I could just be full of shit.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    "and what's right for you may not be right for me."

    It takes different strokes...

  • R C Dean||

    Hang in there, hammy.

    My take is that government officials are more likely to lie, because they have fewer incentives not to. I don't believe them unless and until there is corroborating evidence.

  • perlchpr||

    This, plus, I've seen numerous incidents of various FedGov branches fucking with people to keep them off "their" (BLM's, for example) land, because they seem to just hate anyone who doesn't live in a city.

    Come to think of it, they probably hate the people who live in cities, too, they just have fewer chances to fuck with them.

  • sofubar||

    I have the same problem myself. These guys are sharp, been around a lot longer than I....and quick.
    A few hours after the story breaks, and comments are done most of the time. I'm always late. Probably a blessing in disguise for me.

  • Harun||

    "They were also forced to sign over a right of first refusal to the BLM on the sale of their property."

    I see zero reason why this should be part of any plea deal.

    In fact, it suggests an ulterior motive of the state.

  • Ted S.||

    Because the USG would never, ever lie.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I think being sent back to jail after release is FUBAR but it seems disingenuous to say these guys were just lighting fires to keep some weeds at bay."

    They weren't convicted of poaching. They were convicted of arson.

    And whether they were innocent is completely irrelevant to the question of whether they were subjected to double jeopardy, whether their due process rights were violated, whether the sentence was cruel and unusual, etc.

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    And did the judge rule on that count? Given his sentencing, it sounds like he didn't think that part of the story was proven.

  • sarcasmic||

    If sentences for crimes were reasonable, then more people would challenge their charges in court. That would be very expensive for the government. Better to force people into taking plea bargains. Besides, everyone who goes to court is guilty. Some can afford good lawyers to get them off (which is why asset forfeiture is so wonderful: it prevents people from hiring good attorneys and sticks them with public defenders), but they're all guilty.

    /guvlogic

  • straffinrun||

    Can't vouch for it, but this seems to present the charges laid out. Start a fire and, boy, can they pile on the charges.
    http://www.thewildlifenews.com.....tment1.pdf

  • straffinrun||

    "a minimum sentence mandated by statute is not a suggestion that courts have discretion to disregard."

    He speaks for me.

  • Robert Riversong||

    What a grossly misleading article.

    The Hammonds were found guilty of setting a 2001 fire to cover up the illegal poaching of an entire herd of deer on BLM land, and of setting a 2006 back-fire during a fire ban and putting firefighters upslope at risk.

    They were appropriately charged and convicted of arson of federal property and (eventually) sentenced according to the will of Congress. There was nothing either unconstitutional nor excessive about the five-year sentence for malicious destruction of public property and putting firefighters' lives at risk for the alleged protection of private property.

  • Robert Riversong||

    That the sentence WAS constitutional is indicated by the refusal of the very conservative Supreme Court to hear the case.

  • WTF||

    Because the constitution means whatever the federal courts say it means. No further thought required.

  • tarran||

    Exactly!

    In the 1800's the constitution said, quite clearly, that black people couldn't be U.S. citizens.

    Only teathuglican terrorists believed otherwise.

  • sarcasmic||

    Teathuglican terrorists believe the constitution means what it meant back then! They want to return to slavery!

  • WTF||

    The 13th amendment never happened!!!1111!!!!!!! And the 18th amendment was never repealed, either!!11!!!1!

  • straffinrun||

    It's settled. Except the parts I don't like. They're not settled. BTW, was it established fact that he was poaching based solely on his nephew's testimony? I've read the nephew was a nutcase.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I'd add that they weren't even charged with poaching. So, the government can make the claim to dupe morons like Robert without bothering to substantiate the claim in a court of law.

  • Marty Comanche||

    DPR tried to murder people. Or maybe he didn't. Even so, he's very dangerous. But don't let that influence you. (wink)

  • Ken Shultz||

    Why does it matter whether they were poaching?

    What difference does that make?

    Convicted poachers and convicted arsonists have the right not to be subjected to double jeopardy, too.

    Convicted poachers and convicted arsonists have due process rights.

    Convicted poachers and convicted arsonists have the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

    What difference does it make if they killed Bambi's mom?

  • Harun||

    Serfs cannot hunt deer in the King's forest!

  • sarcasmic||

    Appeal to authority much?

  • Hamster of Doom||

    The very conservative court which legalized gay marriage. That very conservative court. SO conservative.

    Just guessing from context, but in this instance does "conservative" have an actual meaning, or is it just a signal that we're not supposed to argue (because it's conservative)?

  • Colonel Slanders||

    ".....or is it just a signal that we're not supposed to argue (because it's conservative)? = Obviously. Get with the program.

  • Ama-Gi Anarchist||

    Its Tulpa being his usual douchebag self.

  • Jerryskids||

    What the hell does any of the details have to do with it? Your argument boils down to "the law said thus-and-so and the law establishes the truth of the matter, the law must be obeyed because it is the law." Boy, did you ever wander into the wrong neighborhood with that kind of shit.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The Hammonds were found guilty of setting a 2001 fire to cover up the illegal poaching of an entire herd of deer on BLM land"

    An entire herd?

    Buck "herds" are typically three to five animals.

    You make it sound like they were accused of wiping out the buffalo.

    I've heard it was alleged that the first fire was set to cover up deer poaching --not wipe out "an entire herd". Regardless, I don't think anyone here is protesting their innocence. We're protesting how the Hammonds were treated after they were convicted and served their sentence. Regardless, they weren't convicted of poaching deer. They were convicted of arson.

    Poaching deer doesn't mean you give up your right not to be subjected to double jeopardy, you give up your right to substantive due process, you give up your right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, or that you give up your right to a speedy trial. You don't give up any of those rights just because you were convicted of arson either.

  • Cyto||

    I'm not sure how setting a grass fire would cover up poaching. Don't they usually catch you for poaching by finding you with the dead animal?

  • Chip Woodier||

    They couldn't catch them poaching because the grass fire covered it up! Weren't you listening?

  • Bryan C||

    Impossible. Everyone knows fire can't melt deer.

  • Harun||

    Yes, you'd have to have direct evidence, no?

    I guess he could be burning deer bodies. Maybe we should autopsy them for cause of death. Deer are totally endangered species.

  • Bitterlawyer||

    And double jeopardy doesn't mean that a sentencing error of the trial court cannot be overturned by an appellate court, it means they cannot be tried for the same offense twice. Not even the Hammonds attorneys are foolish enough to proffer this somehow invokes issues of double jeopardy.

  • Frankjasper1||

    The very conservative sc? Not sure if this guy is serious....

  • Colonel Slanders||

    He's as serious as a heart attack, progs don't troll that well.

  • Drake||

    When they make the movie, Ed Harris has the Dwight Hammond role.

  • Kevin Sorbos Manful Locks||

    Ed Harris plays his villains too nobly.

    The role should go to Double-Space-Hitler to show how unrepentantly evil the rancher is.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Can any of the lawyers here explain why this was a crime and not simply a tort?

  • R C Dean||

    They burned the king's land, that's why.

  • Ama-Gi Anarchist||

    That's pretty much it in a nutshell. If it was truly that egregious of a sin that they committed...why didn't the BLM make them go out and replant all the plants that they killed?

  • Ama-Gi Anarchist||

    That's pretty much it in a nutshell. If it was truly that egregious of a sin that they committed...why didn't the BLM make them go out and replant all the plants that they killed?

  • Cloudbuster||

    Because there was no need to. If you went out there today, you wouldn't be able to find the area the fire burned (unless you noted that a particular piece of land looked *better* than the surrounding land that didn't burn.

  • Ron||

    In the state of California you are required to maintain land within 100' of your residence. A friends house was less than 100' of national forest so he pruned trees and cut underbrush, something the forest service is supposed to do. anyway he was fined 10k for doing their job.

  • Bitterlawyer||

    Because it violated a criminal code. Crime and tort are not mutually exclusive.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Under any reasonable (i. e., non-judicial) reading of the Constitution, this is double jeopardy.

    They went into court, they pled guilty, the judge imposed a sentence, they served the sentence. The the appeals court approved a new sentence.

    How is this different from the prosecution appealing an acquittal, which is admittedly unconstitutional?

    But let me say that taking over a federal building is something I oppose. It's like those riots which break out when a white cop is acquitted of shooting some black guy.

  • Marty Comanche||

    They are not being put in jeopardy of life or limb.

  • sarcasmic||

    Tell that to the old guy for whom five years is likely a life sentence.

  • Marty Comanche||

    Has the double jeopardy clause traditionally been held to apply to life sentences? Your point is well taken that it might as well be a death sentence, but I'm not sure you could successfully argue that in court.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Double jeopardy includes being given two sentences for the same crime.

    Multiple Punishments

    "The defendant may not be punished twice for the same offense. In certain circumstances, however, a sentence may be increased. It has been held that sentences do not have the same "finality" as acquittals, and may therefore be reviewed by the courts. Sentence increases may not, however, be made once the defendant has already begun serving his term of imprisonment."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Double_Jeopardy_Clause #Multiple_punishments

    Not only had the Hammonds already started their sentence, they had already completed their sentence.

  • tombstone||

    If this turns out to be true, then the Hammonds, likely on the advice of legal counsel, will likely reap some hefty financial gain out of this.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Last year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, responding to a government appeal, disagreed with Hogan, saying he had no choice but to impose five-year sentences on both men . . . . That is why the Hammonds, who had already completed their original sentences, were ordered back to federal prison, the development that led to Saturday's protest."

    Isn't the penalty phase of a trial still considered part of the trial? If so, weren't the Hammonds' right to a speedy trial violated?

    The most recent conviction was in 2006--do I have that right? And it took the government almost ten years to decide on their sentence?

    Whatever is meant by the Sixth Amendment's right to a speedy trial, it shouldn't mean that the government can take ten years to come back and give you a sentence--so long that you could serve your original felony sentence before they get around to telling you what you real sentence will be. Surely there must be some time limit on when the government can come back and tell you your true sentence.

    In addition to that, i have objections based on double jeopardy (being punished twice for the same crime in this case) and due process.

    If hating on militia people is wrong, progressives and the MSM don't want to be right--but even broken clocks tell the truth twice a day. If nothing about the way the Hammonds are being treated is illegal, then something needs to be fixed.

  • Chip the Chipper||

    I would give President Obama some major props for commuting their sentences.

  • Marty Comanche||

    We all have dreams, Chip.

  • Harun||

    It would be smart politics for his legacy.

    I think twitter might not be so happy. "Drone them!"

  • See Double You||

    Shorter Ninth Circuit: the Eighth Amendment has no teeth at all.

  • Some Engineer||

    Look for this story to be fully detailed and explored after the ranchers have served the longer terms as a series of podcasts in Serial Season 9: The Hammonds

  • Madashell||

    Federal mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines are draconian and have to be eliminated. This is some Reagan era holdover nonsense that does nothing but harm to our judicial system. There are plenty of judges (and even some prosecutors) who are smart enough to impose JUST sentences without the federal government looking over their shoulders. Reagan is dead and so too should be mandatory minimum sentencing.

  • RKel||

    I'm still baffled on how lighting a fire covers up poaching. Obviously, it must have worked pretty well since they were never indicted for poaching. But, that begs the question: if the fire covered up the poaching, how did anyone know they were poaching?

  • Tituspullo||

    Mandatory minimums should be explained to juries at trial as should jury nullification. If juries of a defendants' peers knew what they were being asked to do to people, they would be far less likely to convict.

  • Peter||

    It's not like they dumped millions of toxic waste into a waterway and polluted the drinking water for several states.
    Only the EPA can do that with impunity.

  • Wiz'o'Oz||

    This is a disaster in the making. No movement no nothing... These guys are threatening the Federal Government and comparing themselves to a prior massacre of similar status.

    These are Militia men whom dwell all over the US but statistically the middle ground is where your Militia's lie. Now these Militias and their "taking over" Federal land "breaking in" and "holding down" the area sounds vaguely like local Gang activity holding down their "set" or "block".

    I do not think the FBI will take kindly to the "if you fire we fire back". It takes one idiot to spark a massacre and several are trying to lead this "revolution". The farmers and grounds being burned was just the catalyst for this to pop off.

    Take Heed all and go home...

  • ace_m82||

    Almost every word of that could be applied to Lexington green in 1775.

  • S. Lynn||

    For a complete back store on this: http://theconservativetreehous.....rsecution/

    Sorry. Being a computer illiterate I cannot make it into a link.

  • Henry Baker||

    It appears the American sheep will never wake up to the FACT that they're living in a police state and the federal government is now a full-blown dictatorship.

  • Clair Reading||

    When govt causes a problem it follows different rules.

    Drummond ranchers win $730K from state for botched backfire | Local | missoulian.com

    http://missoulian.com/news/loc.....f887a.html

  • dirt worshipper||

    Deer in OR must be different than deer in TX. In TX, they spook & haul ass just at the sound of a breaking stick. In OR, they must just stand around. Guess it's that "deer in the headlight" thing.

  • John B. Egan||

    I think 5 years seems harsh as well, particularly as they weren't set intentionally. BUT! People ARE punished for accidentally setting fires, in the same way you can go to prison for an auto accident (Unless you're the sad recipient of affluenza that is). It's called negligence. And these fires can be horribly destructive, extremely costly and cause the deaths of firefighters and citizens.

    In the last 5 years alone, the US has experienced 24 "MASSIVE" fires. 24 is only the tip of the iceberg. We've had thousands. Bad enough these two cowboys didn't learn from their first mistake, but decided to compound it by setting a second fire without burn permission. Reason is on the wrong side of the argument on this one and they have already stated they will show for sentencing. BTW. They'll be out in half that time with good behavior.

  • colorblindkid||

    And the reason these fires are "MASSIVE" in the first place is because the government policies that suppressed them for too long, which not only made the fires much larger and more damaging, but encouraged people to move into areas where forest fires are a necessary and natural part of the ecosystem. All pine forests need to burn from time to time.

  • ||

    How does a guilty verdict happen when no malicious intent can be proven? Easy. Jury fixing by the govt. (judge included) when picking jurors. It is now possible to indite anyone, for anything, thanks to the corrupted grand jury system. Justice is nonexistent in the USSA.

    I would leave if I was younger, and so should anyone who values their sovereignty.

  • Tionico||

    mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who "maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive," any federal property.

    and just HOW did the Feds PROVE to a suitable standard of scrutiny, the required "maliciouslh damages or destroys" part of the definition of the crime they supposedly committed?

    Further, I've seen that "arson" defined always involves a STRUCTURE... and there was none involved.

    Further yet, when one considers that, per the charters under whicn the State of Oregon was formed, ALL "public lands' ownedsituate within the boundaries of the new state by FedGov were to become the lands of that new state. In other words, FedGov "owning" or "controlling" such lands is a violation of the terms of Oregon's charter for statehood, approved by both COngress and the People of Oregon.
    BLM must cede all lands it now controls to the State of Oregon... and so does US Dapt of Agriculture, and US Forestery Service and the National Park Service. FedGov are to own NO LANDS other than Washington DC, military bases, naval ports and facilities, and post offices.

  • Alan@.4||

    The theory and practice of mandatory minimum sentences says something to Cruel and Unusual Punishments which The Constitution speaks out against. What it says is, in my view, Fuck Off!

  • para_dimz||

    This is where I widely diverge from Scalia. Je hilds that the people have a "right" to live under stupid laws. Consequently he rules in a way so as to place the redress under a political solution. Here is why the Wise One is dead wrong. The legislators are sent to Washington by us under a contract. There are no legislative methods to alter it. However, as a practical matter legislation doing violation to the contract can get promulgated. Which is why there is a judicial branch. Their duty under the same contract is to force adherence upon the government.
    To place the method of redress for "stupid" laws, as Scalia has often quipped, is to give the other branches amendatory power. Further, it places reliance for redress on a process, electoral, that enshrines majoritarianism over constitutionalism.
    Scalia and all the other judges who go there have their heads deep up their no sunshine portal on this subject.

  • Octavian||

    Wait a second...I KNOW these guys! Dwight used to haul cattle for my Dad...I graduated from high school with Lyle (Dwight's second son) and used to clobber Steven in football practice all the time. I used to put up meadow grass in the Diamond, Oregon area (where the Hammond's ranch is located). They're not terrorists by any stretch of the imagination. Well, unless you're an ambitious federal prosecutor. 5 years for accidentally burning some federal grassland. Way too harsh.

  • FreedomIsBetterThanLiberty||

    Do you anarchists have any idea how serious wildfires are out west? Billions of dollars in property damage and dozens of lives lost every year. There's a reason arson carries a mandatory minimum.

    No, the redneck rancher who's daddy bought a bunch of land for him doesn't know best how to maintain the land. Firebreaks involve hard decisions that need to be made and we elect a government who hires experts to make these decisions. The arsonist does not know better than the fireman, the engineer, and the meteorologist.

    Any arsonist can claim they were protecting their land. That is not a valid claim. Sometimes, the fireman has to direct the fire onto the tilled field or the fallow grazing lands and that sucks for the rancher. I feel bad for him. But, the fireman saved the town crosswind.

    There is absolutely no reason to allow the rancher to commit arson in spite of the fireman, the engineer, and the meteorologist.

  • Galane||

    In 2001 they set a fire ON THEIR OWN LAND after contacting the relevant authorities. It burned 147 acres of refuge land and the Hammonds put it out without any help.

    In 2006 they set a backfire ON THEIR OWN LAND to save their ranch from being burned by lightning caused range fires. The backfire worked exceptionally well, extinguishing the range fire.

    For their acts of PUBLIC SERVICE they have been libeled, slandered, illegally arrested and prosecuted and called terrorists. They have now been tried and sentenced twice for the same "crimes" in violation of our protections against double jeopardy. http://theconservativetreehous.....rsecution/

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Do you anarchists have any idea how serious wildfires are out west?

    I've lived out west most of my life. The biggest one that ever happened during my lifetime was started by a negligent government park ranger. The fire went for over a month before the firefighters put it out.

    What the Hammonds did was NOTHING compared to what the feds fuck up routinely on these prescribed burns.

  • GamerFromJump||

    Much of the seriousness of wildfires, especially in California, is caused by idiot Greens preventing proper clearing of undergrowth (also known as "tinder").

  • Galane||

  • freeewill||

    it seems if he intentionally burned, the damage would have been far greater, but then again, why is he so at ease with his sentence?...i wonder whats really going on behind the scene with this Bundy guy?

  • SHAFAR NULLIFIDIAN||

    Keep in that space you call "mind" that the penalties imposed on this @$$h01Σs are those that the Republican free (of) minds and free marketeers championed by the bereft of reason at reason.com made law back in the 90's. Kama's a bitch! These cretins took up arms against the nation. Hang the bastards.Remember Al Capone was just a capitalist in the extreme! He could have continued with his murder and mayhem if he had just paid his taxes (or the right politicians.)

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Keep in that space you call "mind"

    Speaking from experience?

  • Trollificus||

    Yes, it's already been noted in comments that those mandatory minimums are a relic of Regan-era "Get tough on crime!" campaign pettifoggery. But you probably didn't read any comments did you? Outside inputs can only mess up a neat proggie "narrative", amirite?

    Your post exhibits an opacity that can only come from complete ignorance of your intended audience. Forinstance, wrt the fact of the Regan-era provenace of the sentencing guidelines...you seem to be crowing about it as if it's a victory for someone...who? Or is this one of those irony things? And do you really have a mental image of Rethuglitards and Libertarians in a smoke-filled room "championing" the passage of mandatory minimums??? (If so, that's bad messed up, in a "understanding reality" kind of way)

    I also don't understand the sheer exuberance with which you expound such weirdness and stupidity. Sorry, the communication fail here is on you. But thanks for sharing.

  • LV||

    So, how many (and who?) would have gone to jail if a lightning strike had caused the fires? Who was killed? What "damage" was done?

  • FaithBasedHater||

    There was a trial and the state proved to a jury of the defendant's peers that the crime had been committed. All the arguments, evidence, and defenses have been made and they were convicted by you and me. It's over. Stop trying to create non-issue.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Fuck off, slaver. The Hammonds agreed to a plea deal and the DoJ went back on it because they didn't like the judge's sentence.

  • FaithBasedHater||

    What's so unfair about a 5 year sentence for their crimes? People every day have gone to jail for far less for far longer.

    You say it's not fair but the government also made a compelling argument. These men are charged with poaching on OUR LAND and then committing arson on OUR LAND to cover up their crimes. These men are guaranteed a day in court tried by the jury of their peers living near them. And they received just that. But they are not guaranteed a favorable ruling. Their neighbors and fellow citizens have heard the evidence and convicted them. It is proven by law that these men have committed serious crimes and are criminals.

    You don't get to second guess the verdict of our jury from your computer. We live in a constitutional democracy and justice is served. This debate is over.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    What's so unfair about a 5 year sentence for their crimes? People every day have gone to jail for far less for far longer.

    So that makes it okay? There's not, say, a principle of honoring agreements that has to be taken into account here?

    Fuck off, Trotsky.

  • FaithBasedHater||

    Is it like a Oregon thing to skip the entire judicial process and take over publicly owned buildings on their own with guns? We literally have a third branch of government called the Judicial Branch, whose only job is to oversee the actions of the federal government and interpret the Constitution. Why don't these "Constitution Loving Patriots" air their grievances in a constitutional way by taking the federal government to Court like everyone else? What's with the armed insurrection? Instead they break the law and become criminals. That Wildlife Services is owned by the people, and I as a tax payer happen to believe the services it provides is important to all of us. Who are they to take that away from us for their personal grief against the feds?

    Oh wait I think I know. Their daddy already got prosecuted and convicted for FREELOADING OFF OUR PUBLIC LAND AND THEN BURNED IT TO COVER IT UP. TRIED BY HIS PEERS LIVING LOCALLY AND CONVICTED. This Bundy guy is a sore loser who can't accept that the law is just and favors no one.

    Sorry Mr. Bundy. This is the United States. We live in a constitutional democracy. You are not the judge nor the interpreter. Your 8th grade civics education doesn't make you a constitutional scholar. You are entitled to a day in court, but you aren't entitled to a favorable ruling. We settle disputes in a civilized manner. Go back to Somalia

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The Bundys aren't related to the Hammonds, you moron. Maybe if you actually took the time to get the facts of the whole situation instead of your high-horse shitlib chimpouts, you wouldn't sound like such a wannabe-fascist.

  • Dez||

    I know of these ranchers, I have family in the area that know them.
    They are NOT terrorists.
    They ARE protesting the high handed actions of our government!

  • tombstone||

    Interesting the DOJ and the Obama administration on the one hand is so eager to release non-violent offenders from prison, and yet the Judiciary is so eager to severely punish and jail men like the Hammonds, even after they had completed an original minimum sentence handed down by a judge. This entire affair makes no sense whatsoever. And it is not like the Hammonds had completed a minimum sentence and violated a probation. The attorneys for DOJ appealed the lighter sentence, and a higher court agreed to up the sentence. Do not think for a moment that justice is fair and impartial. This should be of concern to everyone, no matter what side of the political spectrum you live on.

  • Chocoholic Leprechaun||

    That 19 year old relative who testified 11 years after the incident is mentally handicapped and was coached by prosecutors. He had to be repeatedly asked to speak up so the court could hear him and a news report described his answers as flat and dull. Allegations of poaching were either never prosecuted or the jury acquitted the Hammonds of them. Bringing up such hearsay

  • gphx||

    One account I read stated the Hammonds had filed a burn plan in advance with the federal government. Don't know if this is accurate but if so it blows wide holes in the official rhetoric of covering up poaching. Control burns set by the BLM get out of control and turn into big blazes surprisingly frequently and I don't see any of them going to jail for it even when private property is damaged and lives are lost.

  • US Patent Attorney||

    What wealth could be created if we didn't have to spend so much money and manpower and brainpower dealing with complying with taxes and regulations and ways to avoid taxes and regulation?

    Visit us: http://www.taylorip.com

  • ||

    I agree, mandatory minimums do not work well and badly need to be improved upon.
    However, I do not think that these particular sentences are that unreasonable, and to minimize what these guys did is kind of dishonest. Arson is an incredibly dangerous crime, with an unusually high chance of causing collateral damage, to property and people. Everyone knows you just don't go around in wooded areas and casually start fires. A single campfire gone bad can destroy vast areas. And the evidence shows that it was started very casually. 139 acres of uncontrolled fire has a huge potential to cause far bigger problems. Plus, one of the fires put firefighters in danger.

  • AWilson||

    This article leaves out that one of the fires was started to hide poaching, which puts a different light on this subject. These men were not just being picked on by the government. Several sources including Rolling Stone mention this. The first fire was reportedly set in 2001 to cover up their illegal poaching of a deer on government property. It burned 139 acres. The second was reportedly set in 2006 as a defensive measure, to protect the ranch from an approaching lightning-sparked wildfire. That arson reportedly endangered volunteer firefighters camped nearby.

    Its public land all the public owns is although we have no say in how its used it doesn't mean these men can use it with impunity and in any manner they wish. I'm not saying I'm against them only that this article is pretty slanted in that it doesn't mention arson to hide poaching. Good for them to show up to go back to jail. The out of state folks who showed up to fight tyranny are anarchists neither is a good choice for society.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online