On Tuesday, May 18th, a Federal Judge ordered the release of three of the Hutaree suspects, accused of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence in connection with a plan to kill Michigan law enforcement officers. Nine people in all have been charged as part of this plot, but the other six are still in jail awaiting release.
Judge Victoria Roberts initially granted bond to all nine of the accused, but she held off on letting them out at the prosecutor’s request. You can see her initial bond conditions here.
On Wednesday, May 5th, Judge Roberts decided to let them out and the prosecutor hurried to the Court over her head, convincing the US Circuit Court to grant an emergency “stay” of their release. Thirteen days later, this “stay” is now dropped and three of them are now out on bond.
I’m glad that Judge Roberts and the Circuit Court Judges above her had the courage to release them.
The bond conditions are pretty severe. They can’t be around weapons. They have to stay in their homes, and they are being electronically monitored. If they leave their homes, the authorities will know and be after them in a heartbeat. Even with these conditions in place, I understand the arguments of those who wanted them to remain in jail.
But we’re talking about people who were planning an assault on the U.S. government, right? Are they going to be deterred by the fear of the government coming after them if they leave their homes or track down some guns? With the deck stacked against them as it is, what’s to say that they won’t just decide to go down in a blaze of glory?
Right now, though, they’re innocent. Innocent unless (not until) proven guilty. We hear those words all the time. But they’re just words until we give them meaning. We can only give them meaning by making hard choices like this one. These men are accused of planning to commit some heinous crimes, but they have not yet been found guilty. Until that time, they should be treated like anyone else in their position.
To quote Judge Roberts in her opinion: “but for the seriousness of the offenses charged, the Defendants are all people it would normally recommend for release on bond.”
They’re not flight risks. They’re local people who may or may not have been involved in a dangerous plot against our safety. The Court was right not to rely on the seriousness of the charges alone to deny these men their freedom.
Does it worry me that they are back out on the streets? Do I fear that they might go through with the plots that they are alleged to have begun? Yes it does.
But to quote Benjamin Franklin, Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
It’s the bargain that we all make to enjoy the freedoms that this great country offers us. And I don’t want to see it renegotiated.