Judge Acquits Defendants in Hutaree Militia Case, as to the Most Serious Charges

I’ve briefly mentioned the case on the blog — though I haven’t followed it in any detail — so I thought I’d note this development. (Note that the Double Jeopardy Clause has been read as precluding the government from appealing grants of a motion for judgment of acquittal.) In the words of today’s Detroit News,

A federal judge acquitted seven members of the Hutaree militia Tuesday of the most serious charges following six weeks of testimony in a high-profile terror case.

On the second anniversary of the Hutaree arrests, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts granted a defense motion Tuesday to acquit the militia members on seven charges, including seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. The most serious charge could have resulted in 30-year prison sentences.

She ordered the trial to continue against Hutaree leader David Stone Sr. and his son Joshua Stone on weapons-related charges….

I’ve uploaded the judge’s opinion. Here’s an excerpt from the judge’s decision:

[W]hile the Government presented evidence of vile and often hateful speech, and may have even shown that certain Defendants conspired to commit some crime — perhaps to murder local law enforcement — offensive speech and a conspiracy to do something other than forcibly resist a positive show of authority by the Federal Government is not enough to sustain a charge of seditious conspiracy. A conspiracy to murder law enforcement is a far cry from a conspiracy to forcibly oppose the authority of the Government of the United States.

As explained more fully in Subsection 3 below, the evidence is not sufficient for a rational factfinder to find that Defendants came to a concrete agreement to forcibly oppose the authority of the Government of the United States as charged in the Indictment; that would be an agreement to retreat to rally points after drawing federal law enforcement from across the country to Michigan to engage in a large-scale uprising or “war” with these agents.

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