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An Idaho judge rescheduled Ammon Bundy’s contempt of court trial. Why? Fruit trees

In new court documents, far-right activist and former gubernatorial candidate Ammon Bundy asked that his contempt trial be rescheduled for agricultural reasons, and his request was granted.

A judge also detailed all of the falsehoods that Bundy, Diego Rodriguez and their supporters must quit posting online after their loss in the St. Luke’s Health System defamation case.

At an arraignment hearing last week, an Ada County district judge set an October trial date for Bundy on contempt of court charges. Fourth District Judge Lynn Norton initially issued an arrest warrant for contempt in April after she said Bundy violated a court order to stop harassing and intimidating witnesses and plaintiffs in the St. Luke’s case.

Bundy was arrested Aug. 11 on that warrant at a high school football fundraiser, according to previous Statesman reporting. He bonded out of the Gem County Jail for $10,000 after spending more than 24 hours inside.

Bundy filed court papers stating that an October trial would interfere with his fruit harvest.

“As an apple and pear producer, October is harvesting season and a crucial and busy time,” Bundy wrote in his motion. “Having (a) trial at the beginning of the harvest season would prove to be very difficult for both attending to the trial and to harvesting my crops. I cannot do both at the same time.”

Bundy has more than 360 trees, according to his motion. He said he spends all year working to bring his crops to harvest.

“The loss of the (apples) and the distraction in trial would not be fair to my family or I,” Bundy said. “All of which would put more financial burden upon my family and damage the attempt to have a fair trial.”

Fourth District Judge Nancy Baskin agreed to reschedule and ordered the four-day trial to begin at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 13 at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise.

Baskin, rather than a jury, will decide Bundy’s punishment because the maximum penalty would be six months in jail. Bundy also could face fines for each time he’s found to have violated the court order prohibiting any intimidation or harassment.

Ammon Bundy is appeared in Ada County court last week for the first time in more than a year.
Ammon Bundy is appeared in Ada County court last week for the first time in more than a year.

Judge details lies spread by Bundy and supporters

The charges against Bundy relate to the St. Luke’s defamation case that concluded in July with a jury ordering Bundy and an associate, Diego Rodriguez, to pay $52.5 million in damages to the health system and other plaintiffs. The case began after Bundy and Rodriguez led protests at St. Luke’s hospitals in Meridian and downtown Boise in March 2022 over a child welfare case involving Rodriguez’s 10-month-old grandchild.

The contempt case started with the health system’s allegations that Bundy, Rodriguez and their supporters had continued to attack and harass plaintiffs and witnesses, violating a court order.

In a new filing, Baskin outlined the many lies that Bundy and other defendants must stop promoting and posting online, including:

  • The infant was “perfectly healthy” when taken into custody.

  • The infant was kidnapped or unlawfully taken.

  • St. Luke’s and Idaho government agencies are involved in child trafficking.

  • St. Luke’s medical providers are pedophiles.

  • The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare makes more money from taking children into custody.

  • The department “only allows certain people with a specific sexual orientation to adopt children.”

  • St. Luke’s harmed or misdiagnosed the infant.

  • St. Luke’s reported the parents to Child Protective Services.

  • St. Luke’s staff threatened to file a report with Child Protective Services if the parents didn’t agree to a treatment plan.

  • St. Luke’s both kept the infant longer than necessary and discriminated against the parents because they didn’t want him vaccinated.

  • The parents didn’t consent to the infant’s treatment and owe thousands of dollars for the infant’s medical care.

  • The infant was released quickly because of the protesters’ actions.

The defendants must remove those and similar statements posted online already.

Bundy was accused of harassing witnesses in the case multiple times in April, leading to the contempt warrant. At least three witnesses were unwilling to testify because they feared the tactics used by the far-right agitator and his supporters, according to St. Luke’s attorney Erik Stidham.

Baskin also reduced the amount of money the defendants owe to St. Luke’s CEO Chris Roth in the defamation case. The jury decided that Roth was owed $2.125 million in compensatory damages and $7 million in punitive damages. However, Idaho law states that punitive damages cannot be more than three times higher than compensatory damages, so Baskin lowered the punitive amount to $6.375 million.