Mistrial in Nevada standoff – Judge severely criticizes prosecutors for willfully failing to turn over evidence to defense

Ammon Bundy, right, and Carol Bundy, wife of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, speak with reporters outside of a federal courthouse Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in Las Vegas. Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial Wednesday in the case against Cliven Bundy, his sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy and self-styled Montana militia leader Ryan Payne. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By KEN RITTER,  Associated Press   LAS VEGAS (AP) 12/20 — A U.S. judge in Nevada dealt another defeat Wednesday to federal prosecutors trying to punish leaders of armed standoffs meant to oppose federal authority over vast swaths of land in the American West.

Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro in Las Vegas declared a mistrial in the long-awaited case against states’ rights figure Cliven Bundy, his sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy and self-styled Montana militia leader Ryan Payne.

Prosecutors were trying to prove the four broke the law in a tense armed confrontation between Bundy supporters and government agents who gave up efforts to confiscate Bundy cattle in 2014.

Navarro didn’t dismiss the case outright, but said she might after a Jan. 8 hearing. She also severely criticized prosecutors for suppressing information and violating constitutional due process by failing to turn over all their evidence to defense attorneys. She called the conduct “willful.”

“The defense has a right to information so it can go to a jury,” the judge said, “so the jury can decide.”

The setback comes a year after a federal jury in Portland, Oregon, acquitted Ryan and Ammon Bundy of all charges after leading an occupation of a U.S. wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon in early 2016 and demanding the federal government turn over public land to local control.

This year, prosecutors in Nevada failed to gain full convictions in two trials against six defendants in the Bundy case who acknowledged carrying assault-style weapons during the April 2014 confrontation outside Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Two of them, from Idaho, were memorably photographed on a highway overpass pointing weapons at heavily armed federal agents facing hundreds of flag-waving protesters in a dry riverbed below.

The display forced a smaller group of agents to quit rounding up Bundy cattle and sent a shock wave across Western states, where the federal government owns most of the land and many ranchers chafe at grazing restrictions.

Cliven Bundy, 71, has become a states’ rights icon. Hundreds answered calls on social media to protest and protect him.

His trial on 15 felony charges, including conspiracy, weapon counts and threatening and impeding a federal officer, had been expected to last four months. The defendants face the prospect of decades in prison.

“Awesome. But not yet complete,” Ryan Bundy said outside the courtroom where he had asked the judge to remove house arrest restrictions for him, his brother and Payne. Navarro said she’d decide that question later.

“I believe there is no jury in this country that will convict us,” Ammon Bundy said. “We have something most powerful, and that’s the truth.”

Cliven Bundy remained in federal detention in protest, although his lawyer was seeking his release. Payne declined to comment.

Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre didn’t immediately say whether he would retry the case.

Navarro spent 30 minutes in a packed courtroom citing evidence of misconduct by Myhre and his team.

The judge recalled prosecutors describing efforts to obtain records a “fantastic fishing expedition,” ”urban legend” and a “shiny object to distract the court” as they denied the existence of video and log book evidence of a sweeping government operation covering a vast range half the size of Delaware.

Agents also set up corrals for protesters well away from the activity and designated them “free speech zones.”

Navarro said she was dismayed to learn some 3,300 pages of previously undisclosed FBI and Bureau of Land Management records were turned over to defense attorneys since Oct. 10. The deadline had been Oct. 1 ahead of the trial that opened in mid-November.

Some contained references to snipers and surveillance cameras on hilltops around the Bundy ranch, which prosecutors had insisted did not exist.

The judge called it impossible for defense teams to have fully prepared for the trial. She also offered some stunning disclosures.

Despite written reports predicting the Bundys would not resort to violence, Navarro said government officials mounted a “Bundy media campaign.”

Government news releases later asserted that Bundy cattle were being rounded up because he failed to pay more than $1.1 million grazing fees and penalties.

One threat assessment said the Bundys “will probably get in your face, but not into a shootout,” the judge said.

Another report undercut a key claim by environmentalists and the government that Bundy cattle grazing in what is now Gold Butte National Monument caused any documented injury to tortoises.

The judge made no mention of a whistleblower memo by a former Bureau of Land Management investigator in the case that was made public last week.

It alleged widespread bad judgment, bias and misconduct during the planning and operation of the cattle roundup, as well as “likely policy, ethical and legal violations among senior and supervisory staff.”



Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Court Rulings, Courts & Trials, Dept. of Justice, Federal Agencies, Illegal Activities, Judges, Misconduct/Abuse of Authority, Prosecutorial Misconduct, Prosecutors, Protests/Civil Unrest, U.S. Government

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 × 4 =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.