US v Huff – Hearing Appeal Jan 30, 2014

The audio of appeal hearing in the case of 12-5581US v Darren Huff can be found here.

Some people are still somewhat confused about the concepts of attempt or planning to. If I plan to kill someone, then I can be found guilty of a crime, as much as if I had attempted to kill someone or actually managed to kill someone.

All these are crimes under our legal system and in this case, the words and actions of Darren Huff caused a jury of his peers to convict him.

While some still believe that the Jury is somehow manipulated, no such evidence has been provided, and claims about the foreperson of the Grand Jury have been shown to be totally erroneous.

The judges started with questioning the legality of the traffic stop. The Judge wondered if officers could use reasonable judgment when pulling over people for violations.

What the stop brought into evidence is the conversation with the Police. But the necessary elements had already been established: he was carrying guns across the state line (admitted to by Darren publicly) and he had intents (expressed before and after the event by Darren publicly).

So even without the traffic stop, there would still have been sufficient evidence.

Judge: “He was going to take over the court house if he had had more people”

The crime is not what he said in Madison, it was crossing the state line and the intent, and the intent had to be decided by the Jury.

The P&E reports

The FBI reportedly claimed that Huff’s arrest was justified because ”on April 21, Huff recorded a radio broadcast, talking about his traffic stop and saying he did have weapons and ammunition with him.  As a result, the FBI believes Huff had both the intent and means to carry out threats of violence.”

He certainly made it easier on the government to get him arrested, indicted and convicted, however it was not just the recording after the event, but also the statements made before the event which caused Darren Huff to be convicted.

The prosecution’s case was simple:

The defendant was armed and his intent was to “takeover the Court house by conducting citizen’s arrest”. This crime was completed when Darren crossed the state line with the requisite intent.

Judge: So he could have been arrested after he crossed the state line

Prosecutor: Yes, he could have been arrested.

  1. There is no obligation to arrest Darren
  2. There were multiple groups converging and the law enforcement officers had no complete overview

The judge asks for comments on some precedents as to the ambiguity of the boastful statements versus the question of intent. Is this protected by the 1st Amendment?

The statute in question is not targeted at the speech but at the conduct and the intent, distinguishing this case from precedents. The line between talking about violence and intending to incite violence is a tricky one. What was the intent?

A citizen’s arrest without any foundation in law, is in fact a crime. Is that intended or attempted assault? Interesting question which I pondered as well. Intention is not the same as attempt. One can have the intention to kill someone and plan for it, without attempting the act and still be guilty of a crime. The question of attempt would be more tenuous.

The P&E also has a report from someone who attended the hearing but the comments suggest to me that he/she did not fully understand the discussions about intent, attempt.