Bundy Criminal Case Receives 'Final Nail'

Federal prosecutors will not be allowed to reopen the criminal case against rancher Cliven Bundy, his sons or supporters, a judge has ruled. ( . )

Federal prosecutors will not be allowed to reopen the criminal case against Cliven Bundy, his sons or supporters, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro has ruled.

"It's the final nail in the coffin, and completely expected," Bundy attorney Bret Whipple said. He called the 11-page ruling "a direct rebuke to the federal government, the Bureau of Land Management and the different prosecuting agencies."

The criminal case was filed in 2016 against Bundy, his sons and 14 others, after a standoff in April 2014 against the Bureau of Land Management on Bundy’s Bunkerville, Nev., Ranch. The protest involved hundreds of armed Bundy supporters who prevented BLM agents from enforcing court orders to roundup and remove Bundy’s cattle from government land.

Last week’s ruling preventing the reopening of the case comes after Judge Navarro dismissed charges in January due to “flagrant misconduct” by prosecutors. Navarro said again in last week’s ruling that that prosecutors "willfully" failed to disclose to defense lawyers evidence that government agents provoked the Bundy family into calling supporters to their defense by acts "such as the insertion and positioning of snipers and cameras surveilling the Bundy home."

Navarro said she found no reason to reconsider her dismissal of charges in January against Bundy, sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne.

"On the contrary," Navarro, a 2010 appointee of President Barack Obama wrote, "a universal sense of justice was violated by the government's failure to provide evidence that is potentially exculpatory."

Whipple characterized Bundy, now 72, as relieved that the judge rejected Acting U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson's argument that individual counts could have been dismissed rather than the entire case, and that scuttling the case set a dangerous precedent by encouraging the public to disrespect public lands law enforcement officers.

"On the contrary," Navarro, a 2010 appointee of President Barack Obama wrote, "a universal sense of justice was violated by the government's failure to provide evidence that is potentially exculpatory."

The Bunkerville rancher refused for decades to pay government grazing fees for his cows on federal land. He maintains that the federal government has no authority over state lands.

Most of the 19 defendants from 11 states spent nearly two years in federal custody awaiting trial on charges including conspiracy, threatening and assaulting federal officers, firearm offenses, obstruction and extortion.

Five pleaded guilty before trial, several were acquitted of all counts and some were convicted of lesser charges. Two are currently in prison and six are due for sentencing in coming weeks. Some sentences Navarro has imposed since the mistrial have been for time already served.

Comments