Court halts release of jailed Hutaree militia members

A federal appeals court Thursday issued an emergency stay blocking the release of nine jailed Michigan Hutaree militia members accused of conspiring to overthrow the government.

U.S. Marshall/AP/File
These eight file photos provided by the U.S. Marshals Service on March 29 shows alleged members of the Hutaree militia. From top left, David Brian Stone Sr.; David Brian Stone Jr.; Jacob Ward; Tina Mae Stone; and bottom row from left, Michael David Meeks; Kristopher T. Sickles; Joshua John Clough; and Thomas William Piatek.

DETROIT — A federal appeals court on Thursday issued an emergency stay blocking, at least temporarily, the release of nine jailed Michigan militia members accused of conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati issued the stay shortly after U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade filed a motion seeking the order. Defense attorneys have until 5 p.m. to respond.

The nine were expected to be returned to U.S. District Court in Detroit to be processed at 11 a.m. before being released until trial.

"It's frustrating, to be sure," said Michael Rataj, attorney for Tina Stone, 44, the wife of militia leader David Stone, 44. "She's disappointed. She thought she was going home."

In a ruling late Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said she would not further suspend her Monday order that releases the militia members with strict rules, including electronic monitoring and curfews.

"We don't think the conditions are satisfactory," McQuade said. "We think the defendants pose a danger to the public and to law enforcement in particular. It's my duty to protect the safety of the public."

Roberts had ordered the militia members released Monday, then suspended her decision while prosecutors decided whether to appeal. They will appeal, but she was not persuaded to freeze the order any longer.

"Defendants are presumed innocent of all charges against them. ... This presumption of innocence is part and parcel of why, 'In our society liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception,'" Roberts wrote, quoting a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The members of the southern Michigan militia, called Hutaree, are charged with conspiracy to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the government and the attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. They have been in custody without bond since late March.

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