Jury selection is was about to begin last week in the trial of Ammon Bundy (Son of Cliven, no relation to Ted) and his fellow defendants who led an armed stand-off on federal lands in Oregon. First, however, the judge in the case had to rule on Bundy’s lawyer’s motion demanding that the defendants, who are in custody, can wear neckties, belts and boots at trial as requested.
The U.S. Marshal’s Service emailed Bundy and the rest to alert them that certain items of apparel wouldn’t be permitted at their trial: “Ties, Bows, Belts, Handkerchiefs, Cuff Links, Steel toe boots/shoes, Shoe laces, Shirt tie down straps, Safety pins, Shirt pocket pen protectors.” When U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown Tuesday afternoon asked Barbara Alfono, the deputy U.S marshal in charge of the Bundy trial, about the requirement, she explained that security concerns were the source of the order. Those accessories could be used as weapons against deputy marshals or the defendants themselves, she said. As for the boots, they would interfere with the shackles that are placed around the defendants ankles as they are transported to and from the courthouse. (The shackles will be removed, because prior courts have ruled that they are prejudicial, making defendants look dangerous to the jury.)
J. Morgan Philpot, Ammon Bundy’s marvelously named lawyer, argued that since his client is innocent until proven guilty, he should be allowed to wear the civilian clothes that he chooses. “These men are cowboys,” Philpot wrote in his motion, “and given that the jury will be assessing their authenticity and credibility, they should be able to present themselves to the jury in that manner.” He continued:
“We must consider, when he does so, how will he look? And what are the spot assumptions and impressions will the jury have about him when they see him in the kind of white socks and loafers he was wearing today, with his beltless trousers, and dressed in a formal suit without a tie,Just as significantly, how will the lack of belt, tie, or other apparel compare to others in the courtroom, as he and the other detained defendants are the only ones who will appear that way.”
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