DETROIT - Defense lawyers asked a U.S. Supreme Court justice on Friday to intervene and free nine jailed members of a Michigan-based militia, saying an appeals court used the wrong legal standard to keep them in custody.
The long-shot petition was filed with Justice John Paul Stevens, who has some authority over federal cases in the 6th Circuit, which includes Michigan.
An immediate response was not expected.
A message seeking comment was left with U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade on Friday.
The defendants, all members of a group called Hutaree, are charged with conspiracy to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the government and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction.
Prosecutors said militia members talked about killing police officers and attacking police who turned up for the funeral, though no specific plot or targets have been disclosed.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts in Detroit ordered their release until trial under strict conditions, including electronic monitors. But a three-judge panel on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on May 6, then extended it Monday until another three-judge panel could hear a full appeal.
The U.S. attorney's office said the nine are too dangerous to be released.
In their nine-page filing at the Supreme Court, defense lawyers Richard Helfrick and Todd Shanker said the appeals court did not give enough deference to Roberts' work.
The three-judge panel also relied on issues that were never raised by prosecutors in Roberts' courtroom, the filing said.
Helfrick and Shanker represent David Stone Jr., one of six defendants from Michigan. Two others are from Ohio and one is from Indiana.
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