PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Ammon and Ryan Bundy will be reunited at a downtown Portland jail as they prepare their defense on charges related to the armed occupation of an Oregon bird sanctuary, a judge ruled Monday.
The men were recently separated, with Ammon Bundy shipped to a jail in northeast Portland.
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jones granted Ryan Bundy’s request to have the brothers housed in the same jail ahead of a September trial.
Jail officials prefer to have co-defendants separated, but the judge said this is “an exceptional case and an exceptional relationship.” He did not elaborate on his decision.
Jones also let the brothers and a lawyer meet for a strategy session at the federal courthouse.
The rulings came during a hearing in which Ryan Bundy, who serves as his own attorney, asked the judge to forbid jailhouse deputies from opening his mail, monitoring his phone calls and otherwise dampening his ability to defend himself.
“The prosecution should have to prepare their offense under the same conditions,” Bundy insisted.
Carlo Calandriello, a Multnomah County attorney, said the jail followed established protocols meant to keep everyone safe, including the Bundys.
Ammon Bundy, meanwhile, complained that jail deputies stand too close to inmates when phone calls are made, and can relay trial strategy or other information to the government.
Jones ordered deputies not to listen to what’s being said and not to reveal anything they might inadvertently overhear.
In another matter, Jones released standoff defendant Jason Patrick from jail, pending trial. He had been in a Portland jail since his January arrest.
The Bundys and Patrick are among 26 people indicted on charges of conspiring to prevent Interior Department workers from doing their jobs at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January and early February.
The occupiers wanted the government to relinquish control of Western lands and free two ranchers who were re-sentenced to prison for starting fires. Neither goal was accomplished.
Seven of the 26 defendants have pleaded guilty.