- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A federal judge dismissed Wednesday from the Oregon standoff trial a juror accused by another of bias against the seven defendants, including Ammon Bundy.

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown’s decision came after attorneys for Mr. Bundy filed a motion asking her to remove the juror, a former Bureau of Land Management employee, or declare a mistrial over the bias allegation.

The issue arose Tuesday when another juror sent a note to the judge asking, “Can a juror, a former employee of the Bureau of Land Management, who opens their remarks in deliberations by stating, ‘I am very biased’ be considered an impartial judge in this case?”

The judge removed the juror for “extraordinary circumstance” before ending deliberations at noon in order for an alternate juror to travel from central Oregon to the Portland courthouse by Thursday. Jurors who had been deliberating for days must start over, setting aside any conclusions they already may have drawn.

The panel is now composed of nine women and three men.

The dismissed juror had said during jury selection that his previous employment as a Bureau of Land Management range tech and firefighter dated back 20 years and would not influence his views.

But federal lands issues figure prominently in the high-profile case.

The seven defendants face conspiracy and firearms charges stemming from their 41-day takeover of a Fish and Wildlife Service building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which began in January as a protest against federal land management policy.

On Tuesday the judge sentenced Brian “Booda” Cavalier to time served, or nine months, for conspiring to impede federal workers through intimidation, threat or force, as well as possession of a firearm at a federal facility.

Known as Mr. Bundy’s bodyguard during the occupation, the 45-year-old Cavalier also faces charges in Nevada stemming from the 2014 standoff at the Bundy ranch with BLM agents, and will remain in the custody of federal marshals, according to The Oregonian newspaper.

The jurors appear to be divided on the seven defendants: A second note sent Tuesday to the judge said: “If we are not able to agree on a verdict for three of the defendants, but are at a standoff for the others, does our decision for the three stand?”

Judge Brown instructed them to “consider each count for each defendant separately.”

Attorney Robert Salisbury, who represents defendant Jeff Banta, told The Oregonian that the judge made the correct call.

“From my perspective, you can’t leave a guy on there who says, ‘I’m biased,’” said Mr. Salisbury.

Occupier Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot and killed Jan. 26 at an FBI roadblock by Oregon state troopers, which the Malheur County District Attorney ruled later was justified.

⦁ This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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