Prosecutors in the 2017 trial of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and 14 others deliberately scuttled the case, so the government shouldn’t be allowed to revive the case. That’s what an attorney told an appeals court that is set to hear arguments in coming weeks, according to an Associated Press report.
Prosecutors’ misdeeds during the first trial forced defendants’ attorneys to ask the judge to dismiss the case midway through proceedings, says Alyssa Bell, attorney for co-defendant Ryan Bundy. A retrial would violate the Fifth Amendment ban against being tried twice for the same offense, the AP reported.
“Retrying the case would only advantage the government by allowing them to strengthen their witnesses’ testimony based on the knowledge gained from information ... revealed thus far," Bell said in an Aug. 21 court filing to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
The case was dismissed in December 2017 by U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro, who found “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct” and “deliberate attempts to mislead and distort the truth” by prosecutors against Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and independent militia member Ryan Payne.
Larry Klayman, an attorney for co-defendant Cliven Bundy, told the AP on Tuesday he expects appellate judges will uphold Navarro's dismissal of the case that the lawyer called “an unjust and political prosecution fatally infected with extreme prosecutorial misconduct."
In his court filing, Klayman branded the government appeal as a “Hail-Mary” effort to shield the U.S. attorneys who handled the Bundy case from “career-ending sanctions, if not ... criminal prosecutions.”
Navarro said the government purposely failed to disclose to defense lawyers evidence that federal agents had snipers and cameras around the Bundy home ahead of the April 2014 standoff in rural Bunkerville, Nevada.
Hundreds of protesters and armed Bundy family supporters forced federal Bureau of Land Management officials, FBI agents and contract cowboys to give up enforcing court orders to round up Bundy’s cattle.
Cliven Bundy, four sons and 14 other people were indicted in 2016 on charges including conspiracy and assaulting federal officers that could have gotten them life in prison.