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Trial for Ammon Bundy concludes, but Idaho far-right activist is expected in court again

UPDATED: Mon., March 21, 2022

Ammon Bundy glances at the prosecution table during a pause in his trial to clarify a line of questioning with the jury dismissed in Ada County Magistrate Judge Kim Dale’s courtroom Tuesday in Boise.  (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman)
Ammon Bundy glances at the prosecution table during a pause in his trial to clarify a line of questioning with the jury dismissed in Ada County Magistrate Judge Kim Dale’s courtroom Tuesday in Boise. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman)
By Alex Brizee Idaho Statesman

BOISE – Far-right leader Ammon Bundy spent three days within the confines of the Ada County Courthouse last week. But the gubernatorial candidate’s time walking the hallways of the downtown Boise building is far from over.

Bundy, who’s running for Idaho governor, is expected to attend at least three more hearings in the next couple months regarding his convictions and most recent arrest. Last weekend he was arrested outside St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center on suspicion of trespassing, when he protested a child welfare case and demanded the release of a 10-month-old baby to his parents.

Along with the multiple court hearings he’s expected to attend in the coming weeks, Bundy told the Idaho Statesman he plans to appeal last week’s convictions.

“Today’s ruling is anything but just, and we look forward to our appeal where we expect these charges to be overturned,” Bundy said in a Wednesday news release.

Following a three-day trial, a six-person jury convicted Bundy of two of the three misdemeanor charges against him. The charges stemmed from his arrests twice in one day for entering the Idaho Capitol in April 2021 while under a one-year ban from the building. He was found guilty of one count of trespassing as a second offense within five years and one count of resisting or obstructing officers’ arrests and seizures.

Bundy was banned from the building in August 2020 for refusing to leave the Lincoln Auditorium at the Capitol during a legislative special session.

“You can disagree with the law. You can disagree with the folks tasked with enforcing that law, and you can challenge that law in court,” Ada County Magistrate Judge Kira Dale said during his Wednesday conviction. “But your methods and tactics show a lack of decency, respect and honor.”

The jury did not decide on the other trespassing charge against him, which led to a mistrial on that count. Bundy is expected to appear in court April 11 for a status conference on that case.

Bundy’s history of appeals

This isn’t the first time Bundy has appealed a conviction. Back in September, Bundy appealed his first conviction for trespassing at the Lincoln Auditorium, which is still pending. He was convicted in July 2021 for that August 2020 incident.

Bundy believes that getting his first trespassing conviction overturned is key to removing his other convictions, as it connects all the cases together. He told the Statesman he is optimistic about the initial appeal.

“If we win our appeal, all these charges go away, because they are all based upon the very first one,” Bundy told the Statesman on Wednesday.

In the September appeal obtained by the Statesman, Boise-area attorney Seth Diviney, who is representing Bundy, argues that Department of Administration Director Keith Reynolds did not have the sole authority to ban Bundy from the Capitol.

A letter Diviney sent to Reynolds following Bundy’s ban from the Capitol accuses the director of acting “as judge, jury and executioner with regard to Mr. Bundy’s right to attend legislative sessions.”

Diviney continued by calling Reynolds’ power “unchecked” and said it “oversteps the limits” of the U.S. Constitution’s protections. Diviney was initially expected to be one of Bundy’s attorneys during last week’s trial before Bundy decided to represent himself.

In Bundy’s most recent jury trial, Dale banned certain topics from being discussed in front of the jury – including Bundy’s prior cases. Two other topic areas were off-limits during the trial: the constitutionality of the trespass statute and whether Reynolds had the right to issue the one-year ban from the Idaho Capitol, according to court documents obtained by the Statesman.

Bundy was agitated about the order, as he wasn’t able to reference why he was initially banned from the Capitol.

“The jury is going to go through this trial and not know why I was trespassed,” Bundy said during the trial.

Bundy’s community service mandate

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Whitney Welsh has issued a motion to hold Bundy in contempt of court for not completing the 40 hours of community service he was sentenced to in July.

Bundy had until Jan. 1, 2022, to complete the 40 hours of community service – he has yet to complete any, according to court records. In the motion, Welsh argues Bundy willfully failed to complete his community service.

Bundy disagrees. Less than a month before the community service was due, Bundy argued that his stops made during his gubernatorial campaign satisfy his court-mandated community service. On Nov. 29, Bundy’s campaign treasurer, Aaron Welling, submitted a letter to Idaho’s 4th District Court and claimed Bundy had “completed 1,621 hours of public service.”

Welling said Bundy has traveled the state while encouraging people to “become more active in holding public officials accountable to the people of Idaho.”

Welsh, in her motion, countered that point by stating the hours needed to be completed with a nonprofit organization and not as a part of Bundy’s own campaign. Bundy is expected to appear in court for a contempt hearing March 23.

Bundy placed on one-year probation

Dale waived any jail time Bundy was expected to serve in exchange for one year of unsupervised probation – with only one term: Bundy cannot “commit any new crimes” starting Wednesday. His probation ends March 16, 2023.

Ada County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Emily Lowe told the Statesman via text that “if a defendant on probation gets charged with a new crime, a probation violation is filed separately from any new criminal case and the defendant would have to admit to the violation or the state has to prove the violation.”

Following Wednesday’s verdict, Bundy said he’ll have to make sure that “whatever I do, I’m not going to get convicted this year.” His response was met with laughter from a handful of supporters who surrounded him outside the courtroom.

Bundy was also fined $3,315, which included court fees.

“I’ll just eat less cereal this month and pay it at once,” Bundy jokingly told the judge regarding his fine.

Bundy’s next court appearance on the St. Luke’s Meridian case is April 4. Because his St. Luke’s arrest occurred before his one-year probation began, it will not be counted as a violation.

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