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Federal judge grants bail for Michigan militia suspects

A federal judge on Monday granted bail [order] for nine individuals accused of crimes committed as part of a "Christian warrior" militia called Hutaree [militia website; CNN backgrounder]. Judge Victoria Roberts of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] ruled that bail would be granted but that the eight men and one woman must relinquish weapons and weapons permits, remain confined to their homes, and be kept under electronic surveillance. The nine members have been indicted [JURIST report] on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence in connection with a plan to kill Michigan law enforcement officers. The militia has couched its ideology in religious terms, stating, "The Doctrine of the Hutaree is based on faith and most of all the testimony of Jesus."

Militia groups such as the Hutaree are on the rise in the US. A recent report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center [advocacy website] suggests that a lack of regulation on the Internet [JURIST report] is fueling this increased prevalence. A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) [advocacy website; JURIST comment], released last year, noted that these groups are making a comeback [JURIST report] after declining in number for several years. The SPLC said that such groups are generally anti-tax, anti-immigration, and increasingly racially motivated since the election of the country's first African-American president, Barack Obama. The SPLC also warned that these groups could soon pose a security risk to the country, quoting one official as saying "[a]ll it's lacking is a spark. I think it's only a matter of time before you see threats and violence."

5/4/10 - Roberts has granted prosecutors' request to suspend the suspects' release. Prosecutors have until Wednesday to announce an appeal.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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