May 10th, 2010
06:24 PM ET

Appeals court orders militia members to stay in jail

An appeals court panel Monday extended an order requiring that nine members of the Hutaree militia remain in jail pending the outcome of the government's appeal of a lower court order freeing them until their trial.

All nine members of the Michigan-based militia are charged with seditious conspiracy, attempt to use weapons of mass destruction, and possession of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Additionally, two of them are charged with teaching and demonstrating the use of explosives.

"The district court concluded that defendants had produced sufficient evidence to rebut this presumption in favor of detention," the circuit court wrote in issuing its temporary stay of the release order. "Yet, the district court's opinion fails to identify what evidence produced by the defendants was deemed sufficient to rebut the presumption."

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit asked for transcripts of the Detroit, Michigan, district court proceedings, saying it appeared that the lower court may have considered "whether the evidence would satisfy the elements of the charged offenses, rather than as bearing on the extent of actual danger posed by defendants."

The judges were perplexed that "the apparently undisputed evidence of defendants' violence-threatening speech and actions" would not lead to their further detention.

"How this factor was deemed to weigh in favor of defendants' release - in the face of apparently undisputed evidence of defendants' combat training exercises, stockpiling of weapons, and discussions of intentions to kill law enforcement officers and judicial officers 'pretty soon' in a putative effort to incite a 'revolution' - is not persuasively explained. Again, access to the transcript should shed light on the premises of the district court's analysis."

The judges also questioned the district court's consideration of the prior history of the defendants without noting that one held officers at bay for two days before surrendering or the "undisputed evidence" of their membership in "an extremist organization that advocates the use of violence to resist law enforcement and government."

The lower court's conditions for release - that the defendants would be on home detention and electronically monitored - also came into question, particularly that a third-party custodian - in each case a close relative - be named to monitor each of the defendants.

"Yet, none of the third-party custodian agreements have been made a part of the record and we are therefore unable to assess their efficacy," the court wrote. "Presumably, each third-party custodian would accept responsibility for supervising his or her respective defendant and for reporting any violation of the conditions of release, thereby ensuring that the defendant does not pose a danger to any other person or the community. Yet, each of the appointed third-party custodians is a close relative of his or her defendant - a family member who would presumably have strong natural incentive not to cooperate with the very government that is prosecuting his or her loved-one."

In custody are David Stone Sr., 45; his wife, Tina Stone, 44, and his sons, Joshua Stone and David Stone Jr., 19; Joshua Clough, 28; Michael Meeks, 40; Kristopher Sickles, 27; Jacob Ward, 33; and Thomas Piatek, 46.

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Filed under: Michigan Militia • U.S. • Uncategorized
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Jim

    The Court of Appeals properly raised issues that should have been well articulated at the trial court level. Further review is necessary. The Court of Appeal's decision is proper. Whether the trial court's decision to grant the defendants release will stand or be overturned, remains to be seen. Nice work by the Court of Appeals.

    May 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Glen

    This is disappointing and does not appear to be good work by the Court of Appeals. The Appeals court heard none of the evidence, and saw nothing of the government's witnesses suddenly being unable to recall much of any substance of the Government's case, (which means there doesn't appear to be any) and yet, bows to the Government's desire to keep these people locked up. They then try to blame their decision on the Trial court not including in the record for them agreements that would have to be made if they could bond out, which obviously haven't been made yet, as they haven't been allowed to bond out- a catch-22. Decisions like this make a mockery of our Judicial system, and discourage people from believing in it.

    May 11, 2010 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. Caliguy57

    I can only surmise that the District Court Judge was a fundamentalist christian, who agrees with the violent rhetoric and acts in furtherance of this group's illegal conspiracy. I'm willing to wait and see, if they are proven guilty at trial. However, I don't want to see any of these freaks walking the streets, while they are awaiting trial. There is no doubt that with the arms and materials they had, they could do a lot of damage and kill innocent people, if left unrestrained. And, monitoring by one's close relatives is not restraint.

    May 11, 2010 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ed

    Lawers and politicians in this country are lacking common sense. While muslim terrorists are treated nicely as US citizens when they even lied to get citizenship, real Americans are jailed for playing war games. What happen with being innocent until proof otherwise.

    May 11, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Actually if they were Muslims then they would not get a trial. They would get a one way ticket to Guantanamo and be water-boarded 300 times till the government is sure that they got every piece of information out of them. Then they will be locked down and key thrown away.

      Might want to double check your facts. U.S. is anything but soft on Terrorists.

      February 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |