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Appeals court orders militia members to stay in jail

By the CNN Wire Staff
An appeals court Monday said Hutaree militia members must remain in jail pending outcome of an appeal.
An appeals court Monday said Hutaree militia members must remain in jail pending outcome of an appeal.
  • NEW: Appeals court extends order requiring Hutaree militia members to remain in jail
  • Nine accused of seditious conspiracy, attempting to use weapons of mass destruction
  • 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals asked for transcripts of district court proceedings

(CNN) -- An appeals court panel Monday extended an order requiring nine members of the Hutaree militia remain in jail pending the outcome of the government's appeal of a lower court order freeing them until their trial.

All nine members of the Michigan-based militia are charged with seditious conspiracy, attempt to use weapons of mass destruction, and possession of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Additionally, two of them are charged with teaching and demonstrating the use of explosives.

"The district court concluded that defendants had produced sufficient evidence to rebut this presumption in favor of detention," the circuit court wrote in issuing its temporary stay of the release order. "Yet, the district court's opinion fails to identify what evidence produced by the defendants was deemed sufficient to rebut the presumption."

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit asked for transcripts of the Detroit, Michigan, district court proceedings, saying it appeared that the lower court may have considered "whether the evidence would satisfy the elements of the charged offenses, rather than as bearing on the extent of actual danger posed by defendants."

The judges were perplexed that "the apparently undisputed evidence of defendants' violence-threatening speech and actions" would not lead to their further detention.

"How this factor was deemed to weigh in favor of defendants' release -- in the face of apparently undisputed evidence of defendants' combat training exercises, stockpiling of weapons, and discussions of intentions to kill law enforcement officers and judicial officers 'pretty soon' in a putative effort to incite a 'revolution' -- is not persuasively explained. Again, access to the transcript should shed light on the premises of the district court's analysis."

The judges also questioned the district court's consideration of the prior history of the defendants without noting that one held officers at bay for two days before surrendering or the "undisputed evidence" of their membership in "an extremist organization that advocates the use of violence to resist law enforcement and government."

The lower court's conditions for release, that the defendants would be on home detention and electronically monitored, also came into question, particularly that a third-party custodian -- in each case a close relative -- be named to monitor each of the defendants.

"Yet, none of the third-party custodian agreements have been made a part of the record and we are therefore unable to assess their efficacy," the court wrote. "Presumably, each third-party custodian would accept responsibility for supervising his or her respective defendant and for reporting any violation of the conditions of release, thereby ensuring that the defendant does not pose a danger to any other person or the community. Yet, each of the appointed third-party custodians is a close relative of his or her defendant -- a family member who would presumably have strong natural incentive not to cooperate with the very government that is prosecuting his or her loved-one."

In custody are David Stone Sr., 45; his wife, Tina Stone, 44, and his sons, Joshua Stone and David Stone Jr., 19; Joshua Clough, 28; Michael Meeks, 40; Kristopher Sickles, 27; Jacob Ward, 33; and Thomas Piatek, 46.