Unlike many big motorcycle club cases, the racketeering case against the Rock Hell Nomads in South Carolina is definitely going to trial.
Twenty people have been indicted in that case, titled U.S. v. Bifield et al. They are, Daniel Eugene Bifield, Mark William Baker, David Channing Oiler, Bruce James Long, Richard Thrower, Robert David Pryor, Frederick Keach, Jr., Frank Enriquez, Jr., Donald Boersma, Lisa Ellen Bifield, Johanna Looper, Kerry Chitwood, Carlos Hernandez, Ronald Dean Byrum, Jr., James Rhodus, Bruce Ranson Wilson, Thomas McManus Plyler, Jamie Hobbs Long, Somying Anderson and Trent Allen Brown. Eighteen or 19 of them will probably be tried as a group.
Five of the defendants have asked the court to sever their cases from the coming spectacle. David Allen Pryor, Bruce Ranson Wilson, Somying Anderson and Kerry Chitwood have had those motions denied. James Rhodus, who entered his motion to sever this week, may still win his own trial. A sixth defendant, Frederick Keach, seems to have disappeared from the case and is rumored to be cooperating with prosecutors.
Although the freedom of the dozen and a half defendants, four of whom are women, is in jeopardy in this case what will really be tried in Columbia beginning February 11, 2013 is the issue of which freedoms Americans should be allowed. The Bifield case isn’t about what the sophistical phrase “criminal enterprise.” Jurors in the case will really be asked to decide whether the late 18th Century Romantic notion of freedom is still viable in the new millennium.
The lawyers in Columbia already know this and the proof of what they know is in the voir dire questions they wrote last month. These are the questions the prosecutors and defenders will use to decide whether to accept or reject potential jurors. Taken as a whole the questions mirror what the lawyers imagine citizens in South Carolina can be led to think. The following were proposed by attorneys on both sides and are arranged by topic.
Do you have any particular views about firearms or people who own firearms? Do you have any particular views about the ownership, possession, or use of firearms? Do you have any particular views about the Second Amendment right to bear arms, or have you ever taken a position about the Second Amendment right to bear arms? Have you every contributed money to, or participated in, an organization or person(s) who advocated for gun control laws or policies, or have you ever held or expressed any opinion about gun control? Do you own any firearms, and if so, how many and what kinds? If you owned firearms at one time, but do not own any now, please explain what it is that has caused you not to own any firearms now? Have you ever bought, sold traded, or gifted, a firearm to or from an individual who was not a licensed dealer? Do you or a family member own an assault rifle, silencer, or machine gun? Have you sold a firearm to another individual?
Have you ever had a motorcycle driver’s license? If yes, do you currently have a valid motorcycle driver’s license or has it expired? Have you or an immediate family member owned a motorcycle in the last twenty years? If so, when and what type of motorcycle? Have you or a close family member owned a motorcycle or obtained a motorcycle driver’s license?
Have you or any member of your family ever had a negative experience with any member of an organization that rides motorcycles? If so, please describe this experience in the space below. Would that experience make it difficult for you to impartially sit as a juror in a case where some of the defendants are in a club for motorcycle enthusiasts? The U.S. Constitution states that every defendant charged with a criminal offense is presumed to be innocent; the government has the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt and must do so beyond a reasonable doubt. Could you, acting as a juror, apply these principles to facts presented to you so that the government and defendants are given a fair and impartial hearing even though some of the defendants may be members of, or associated with, motorcycle clubs such as the Hells Angels or Red Devils? Have you formed a negative opinion of motorcycle clubs such as the Hells Angels or Red Devils to the extent that you could not sit as a fair and impartial juror in a case involving these organizations? Have you or someone you know belonged to, or associated with, a motorcycle clubs, including Hells Angels, Red Devils, Southern Gentlemen, Death Dealers, God’s Few, Outlaws, or Pagans?
The Government has used informants and may call informants to testify. An informant may be afforded some benefit in exchange for cooperation. Do any of you have any strong feelings, one way or the other, in connection with the Government’s use of informants in investigating or prosecuting criminal activity? The Government may call cooperating witnesses who have been involved in the criminal activity that is the subject of this trial. These accomplices may be afforded some benefit for their cooperation. Do any of you have any strong feelings, one way or the other, in connection with the Government’s use of such an accomplice as a testifying witness?
The Government may utilize telephone calls intercepted by wiretap and recorded meetings. Do any of you have any strong feelings, one way or the other, in connection with the Government’s use of such wiretaps or recordings?
Do you have any tattoos? If so, please describe the tattoo(s).
Do you watch a television show called the Sons of Anarchy? If so, who is your favorite character? If so, do you realize that this show is a work of fiction? Have you read any stories, or ever seen reports on television or the internet, concerning allegations of wrongdoing by motorcycle clubs such as the Hells Angels or Red Devils in the United States? If yes, would the exposure to this information affect your ability to be fair and impartial to the subjects of those stories? Have you watched episodes of the television show Sons of Anarchy?
Do you support or subscribe to the mission of legalizing marijuana or cocaine or methamphetamine or other controlled substances advocated by groups such as National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)?