Oregon standoff suspect Jon Ritzheimer appeared in federal court last week on a bail hearing. Ritzheimer is charged with conspiracy and other offenses, and had surrendered to the Peoria (Arizona) Police Department. Ritzheimer had left the Oregon occupation camp just hours before the FBI cracked down on the site, and returned to his Arizona home. Reports say that Ritzheimer had been one of the leaders of the group, which had occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
In the court appearance last Tuesday, his attorney, a public defender, argued that Ritzheimer was simply exercising his constitutional rights. He also pointed out that Ritzheimer had no history of violence, and should be allowed to be free while the criminal case against him moves forward. At the hearing, the government played clips that had been posted by Ritzheimer, and stated that he has long been associated with armed conflicts.
The issue of bail in federal court is controlled by statute. Under 18 U.S.C.A. § 3142, there are a number of factors that go into the issue the granting of bail in a pending criminal case. Those factors include, among others, (a) whether, and to what extent, the release of the person would pose a danger to the community, and (b) whether the person is a flight risk.
In this case, a United States Magistrate found that Ritzheimer was a flight risk, and that he presented a danger to the community. The judge also ordered that he be transported to Oregon to face the charges against him. We should note that the social media posts by Ritzheimer didn’t help his cause in the bail hearing. In one clip, he says that he is willing to die for the cause, and threatened his critics. The judge also stated in her ruling that Ritzheimer does not have ties to the Oregon community where his trial will be held, has a history of mental health issues, and tested positive for marijuana.
We expect an appeal from the decision denying bail.
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