My Perspective on the Bundy/Von Schmidt Verdict
By Diego Rodriquez
Many people are asking me my opinion on the Bundy/Von Schmidt verdict from Thursday since I was well acquainted with the facts surrounding the case, and was even called on as a witness.
That being said, as a witness to the case, and someone who walked into the courtroom and looked directly at the jurors who would be deciding Ammon and Aaron’s fate, I unfortunately concluded that justice would not prevail.
I hate to say that—but that’s what I said to my family when I walked out of the courtroom on Wednesday. I had hoped to be wrong and to have judged the jury incorrectly (after all, my judgment was purely superficial as I made judgments about them simply by their appearance). We have a unique system of justice in this country—that when operating correctly ensures that the innocent will rarely face injustice. However, over time, our system has been corrupted and perverted to the point now that justice is a crapshoot. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t.
And when I speak of “justice,” I am speaking of the entire process—and not just the outcome.
In the case of Ammon Bundy and Aaron Von Schmidt, I admit that I am biased, as Ammon is a friend and both men that day were engaged in activities that I approve of and agree with. However, regardless of my own bias, I do think you should be aware of some factors in this case that should concern all Idahoans (that you will not hear on the news):
1. Scott Bedke lied under oath on the witness stand. The whole thing was broadcast on Zoom and it is a matter of public record that Speaker of the House Scott Bedke declared that the Lincoln Auditorium where Ammon and Aaron were arrested is always closed and not accessible to the public. This is a bald-faced lie and one that I personally was called upon to testify to the contrary. I have been in Idaho for 10 years and have visited the Capitol on numerous occasions. The Lincoln Auditorium is ALWAYS OPEN. Period. It’s a public room that is always publicly accessible. In addition to my own testimony, multiple sitting and respected legislators including Christy Zito and Judy Boyle testifed that it is always open. Even Sargent Blake Higley admitted that the room was open and accessible to the public on that day! Scott Bedke impudently lied without care or remorse. Do you really think a man with this capacity to lie, under oath, should be a leader in your state? Did your legislator vote or support his election to Speaker of the House? What else does he routinely lie about? And how could you ever imagine supporting this liar ever again (he is now running for Lieutenant Governor)?
2. Sargent Blake Higley likewise lied under oath. Higley’s lies were less obvious and admittedly could be chalked up to a lapse of memory or a lack of attention to detail. But, DETAILS matter in a court case, and can be the difference between justice and injustice. In Higley’s case, he testified that only “15-20” officers were there to make the arrests and that only 2 people were arrested. He was the man in command, and should have had his numbers straight—especially since it was recorded on so many cell phones! Undeniable video proof was shown to the jury that the number of officers was WAY MORE than 15-20 (some counts as high as 70 if you include the officers in the hallway) and there were three people arrested—not two. Again, these are small details, but details that matter. So Sargent Higley is either incompetent and therefore untrustworthy, or he is, like Bedke, an impudent liar who can never be trusted. It begs the question—how many other lies has he told that resulted in the loss of life, liberty, or property on innocent Idahoans?
3. Trooper Matt Vallard lied so egregiously that he had to return to the stand to correct his lie! I watched this myself on the livestream and sat back in total shock and dismay! This homeboy lied in his testimony and on his police report and after video evidence was demonstrated that he lied, he was brought back to the stand to correct his error. His only defense was that it was a hectic and chaotic week and he just forgot and it was therefore a “human error.” Of course his “human error” was the matter of guilt or no-guilt on the part of Aaron Von Schmidt. In short, Aaron was not in the room when Sargent Blake Higley made the announcement for everyone to leave the room. Aaron walked in AFTER the fact and was subsequently arrested when he started recording the officers arresting Ammon. Aaron testified that he was not in the room and did not hear Sargent Higley make the order to leave. But lying Trooper Matt Vallard testified to the EXACT SPOT where Aaron was sitting/standing and declared, under oath, that Aaron was there when Higley made his announcement. Video evidence was later produced that showed that when Higley made his announcement, Aaron was not there and definitely not in the very specific area that Vallard very specifically noted that he was in (and wrote in his police report). This begs the question—how many police reports from Trooper Vallard are full of crap and lies? How many innocent citizens have his lies affected? How can Vallard ever be trusted again? What consequences should he face for lying under oath? If it was you who lied under oath, what would happen to you? Why should Vallard be treated any different especially since the consequences of his lies are much more severe than yours?
4. The author of the trespassing law has said that the law does not apply to public property. Representative Judy Boyle literally authored the trespassing law that was used against Ammon and Aaron and she has plainly stated that this law does not apply to public property—only private property. The Capitol Building is the “people’s house” and it is public! So the trespass law does not apply. And you have no need for “interpretation” of the law when the actual author of the law is still alive and around to tell you exactly what it means! The point is simple—Ammon and Aaron could not be convicted of “trespassing” because the law does not apply to the situation. They could be convicted of not obeying officers, being white and middle aged men, having beards, or some other law they want to make up, but they can’t be convicted of trespassing. It simply doesn’t apply. You can drive 99 mph on the freeway and get pulled over for breaking the law, but you can’t be convicted for trespassing when doing so. You can rob a bank and be arrested for theft, but not for “trespassing.” And perhaps Ammon and Aaron broke some unknown obscure law that day, but they, by definition did not break the law for “trespassing.”
5. Judy Boyle explained that Bedke does not have authority to dismiss Ammon and Aaron. Judy herself took to the stand and explained before the court that if the State rule which gives the Speaker of the House shared custody of the grounds were to be interpreted to mean that he has all power and authority to do whatever he wants in the Capitol (which is what he claims), then that would mean that any political opponent, including other legislators like her, could likewise be banned from rooms or from the Capitol itself—effectively prohibiting their participation in the legislative process. She warned that if Ammon and Aaron were convicted it would set the precedent to allow any future Speaker of the House to have absolute tyrannical control, protected by case precedent, to ban or prohibit his political enemies from the Capitol. The consequences are chilling! But, the jury voted guilty anyway.
Many other details could be described (particularly about the heinous behavior and attitude of the Prosecution), but I wanted to just bring out these major ones for now. And then I wanted to ask the question—with all of this present and visible to the jury, how in the world could they possibly rule “guilty?”
No one knows the answer to that question, but I have my speculation. And it is purely that. It is just my opinion having been in the courtroom and looked at the jury members with my own eyes.
My superficial judgment about the jury is that they were all the kind of people who will side with Police officers—no matter what. They are blue-line flag American country bumpkins who think that anyone who does not comply with an officer is a DISRESPECTFUL “bad boy.” It doesn’t matter if cops break the law. It doesn’t matter if the Speaker of the House lied under oath, along with the ruling Sargent, and a Trooper who even had to return to the stand to correct his lie. It doesn’t matter that the author of the law in question says that the law doesn’t apply! None of that matters. You know why? Because these bad boys didn’t obey a police man when they were told what to do!
Who cares about rights! Who cares about the Constitution!? Who cares about the law? Who cares about the credibility of the prosecution?! These bad boys didn’t do what they’re told when police told them to do it!
And ladies and gentlemen, that’s all that mattered to the jury. Ammon and Aaron are “bad boys” who didn’t obey a police officer’s orders. That was all that mattered. That is my opinion, anyhow. Now remember, you might agree that Ammon and Aaron SHOULD HAVE obeyed the police. That is an argument that can be made. But not complying with a police officer is not the crime of “trespass.” And that is the point! (By the way, the crime of “trespas” along with the crime of “resisting arrest” are the 2 most commonly used laws to arrest anybody for any reason—because corrupt police can always get away with it). Likewise, if a cop doesn’t like the way you looked at him, he can arrest you for “resisting arrest.” Welcome to the land of the free and home of the brave.
My judgment of the jurors is that simple—they voted and ruled on whether or not they agreed with Ammon and Aaron’s refusal to obey police orders. They did not vote or rule on whether or not Ammon and Aaron commited “trespass” based on Idaho’s legal definition of “trespassing.”
And here’s the rub—we live in the type of culture where compliance with police officers is the most sacrosanct duty of any and all citizens. It is why we are racing towards total state control—because even “good conservatives” have been so brainwashed as to think that a cop can do no wrong, and must always be obeyed even when they are abusing you.
I too, respect and admire police officers and their sacrificial work. But only the ones who exercise their duty according to the Constitution, law, and with the fear of God. Not those who lie under oath, abuse their power, and terrorize the citizenry.
Ultimately, the truly bad news is this—with political leaders like this, with cops who lie, and with ignorant juries who don’t understand law or have enough common sense to respect the Constitution (if they even understand it), what hope do any of us have for justice in our modern society? It is a very scary predicament, and it makes you wonder how much loonier a gambling addict really is than the rest of us.