Judge declares mistrial in Bundy Ranch standoff case
Robert Anglen, The Republic
December 20, 2017
LAS VEGAS — A federal judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in the case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, saying U.S. prosecutors willfully withheld critical and “potentially exculpatory” evidence from the defense.
Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed jurors and ended the trial against Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and militia member Ryan Payne, who are accused of leading an armed standoff with federal land agents in 2014.
Her ruling came more than a month into the trial, which has suffered multiple delays over the handling of evidence by the Nevada U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Navarro cited five key pieces of evidence that prosecutors failed to disclose. That evidence, Navarro said, was favorable to the defense and could have changed the outcome of the trial.
- Records about surveillance at the Bundy ranch;
- Records about the presence of government snipers;
- FBI logs about activity at the ranch in the days leading up to standoff;
- Law-enforcement assessments dating to 2012 that found the Bundys posed no threat;
- And internal affairs reports about misconduct by Bureau of Land Management agents.
“Failure to turn over such evidence violates due process,” Navarro said. “A fair trial at this point is impossible.”
Acting Nevada U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre, who led the prosecution, did not make any comment after Navarro’s ruling, and his office did not respond to interview requests Wednesday.
The judge’s rebuke is the latest in a chain of failures by federal prosecutors, who have been unable to secure clear victories against the Bundys and their supporters during three trials in Nevada and another in Oregon.
The Bundy Ranch standoff is one of the most high-profile land-use cases in modern Western history. It pitted cattle ranchers, anti-government protesters and militia members against the BLM over control of vast tracts of public land.
Withheld evidence at issue
District Judge Navarro suspended the trial two weeks ago and warned of a potential mistrial after prosecutors for the first time disclosed several documents that appeared to support defense claims about the government’s use of video surveillance and sniper teams during the standoff.
Defense lawyers filed motions to dismiss the case, arguing the new documents provided critical evidence that would have allowed them to challenge the government’s charges, impeach government witnesses and lay the foundation for self-defense claims.
U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro methodically listed the prosecution’s six separate violations of the Brady Law.
For instance, she said, prosecutors derided defense requests for a BLM internal affairs report into misconduct as a “bright shiny object … that did not exist.” But documents later showed an internal investigation had taken place, and had found misconduct.
Likewise, Navarro pointed out that during two previous trials of militia members who supported Bundy, prosecutors insisted there was no evidence that video surveillance and sniper teams were in use around the Bundy Ranch prior to the standoff. But documents that surfaced after the start of trial last month showed there were tactical teams and multiple video cameras positioned around the ranch.
Navarro stopped short of dismissing charges against the four men.
Any retrial will depend on Navarro’s ruling during a Jan. 8 hearing, in which she will decide whether to end the mistrial with or without prejudice.
If there is a retrial, it could begin as early as Feb. 26.
Read the article HERE.
We all saw at the time that things were very tense and going south in a hurry. BLM was bound and determined to force another Waco event. Their lies and their heavy-handed actions as ARMED FEDERAL FORCE was totally uncalled for and indicative of the alleged arming of every agency that Obama did in the executive branch.
There is no reason that any agency except true law enforcement should have equipped their employees with military-style gear, weapons, or ammunition under normal conditions. The only reason that this would have made sense is if Obama planned to take over the US by force and make it something other than our country with our own sovereignty.
Nor should there ever be reason for any government agency and its lawyers to withhold evidence that is vital to a case. (except in a few instances to protect or preserve information for national security reasons) It was unforgivable that they chose to make this ranch family seem to be more para-military than law-abiding citizens simply because they chose to stand up for their rights.
There are only two issues that should be settled here. The first is that of curtailing BLM, EPA, as well as other federal agencies. The second is the rights of a state vs federal control over land within its boundaries.
Hopefully this will end the entire episode and these people can go back to their lives as ranchers without further delay.