Two defense attorneys representing members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) have been suspended from the case by the presiding judge -- and a third defense lawyer has been jailed.
This unusually harsh decision was handed down in Sioux Falls by Judge Joseph Bottum who is presiding over the arson trial of the five AIM members.
The jury selection process was in its fourth day on Thursday (April 25th) when a defense attorney objected to the proceedings. Attorney Ramon Roubideaux argued to Judge Bottum that each of the five defendants was entitled to 10 preemptory challenges to jurors being questioned -- saying that a total of 50 challenges should be granted to the defense team.
The judge, however, ruled that all five defendants together would be permitted a total of only 10 challenges. Attorney Roubideaux informed the judge that the decision was being appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court, and Robideaux asked for a recess in the trial until the appeal could be heard.
When judge Bottum refused the delay, defense attorneys then announced they would not proceed with the jury selection process until their appeal argument had been reviewed by the Supreme Court.
With that, the judge ordered a bried recess, conferred with the three attorneys and reconvened the court. Judge Bottum then sentenced Roubideaux to jail for 24 hours for contempt of court, and suspended the two other defense attorneys -- John Pratt and David Allen -- from the case.