Mistrial Declared for Nevada Rancher Who Led Grazing Rights Revolt

A federal judge on Wednesday declared a mistrial in the criminal case of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who led a 2014 armed standoff with U.S. government agents in a range-land dispute, and tentatively set a new trial date for February.

Bundy, two of his sons and another man had been charged with 15 counts of criminal conspiracy and other violations stemming from the confrontation, which galvanized right-wing militia groups challenging federal authority over vast tracts of public lands in the American West.

U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro told federal prosecutors that they had willfully violated evidence rules and failed to turn over pertinent documents to the defense.

Navarro had warned prosecutors last week that she might declare a mistrial after listing documents previously undisclosed by prosecutors that could be used to impeach government witnesses or bolster defendants’ arguments that they felt surrounded by government snipers prior to the standoff.

In a stinging rebuke on Wednesday, Navarro said prosecutors knew or should have known of the existence of memos from FBI agents that may have been helpful to the defense.

Those memos and other documents, some 3,300 pages in all, were not turned over until well after an Oct. 1 deadline, and then only after repeated efforts by Bundy’s defense counsel, Navarro said.

Defense attorneys have long argued the Bundy family felt endangered by government “snipers” positioned on the hill above their ranch.

Navarro set a retrial date for Feb. 26, 2018 but whether a new trial will actually happen is uncertain. Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre said prosecutors have yet to decide whether to pursue the case, and even if they do, the judge will hear defense arguments on Jan. 8 on whether to dismiss the case.

Bundy’s attorney, Bret Whipple, said the judge’s decision should send a clear message to the prosecution that the case will be dismissed.

“I think we have a very strong case that this will never be tried again,” Whipple said.

The revolt, against the federal Bureau of Land Management, by Bundy and his armed followers was sparked by a court-ordered roundup of Bundy’s cattle in April 2014 after he had refused for two decades to pay fees required to graze his herds on federal property.

Bundy, his two sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy and co-defendant Ryan Payne, have cast the uprising as an act of patriotic civil disobedience against government excess. The most serious counts they faced had carried a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

“I don’t believe there’s a jury in this country that would convict us,” Ammon Bundy said after the hearing, adding, “I believe that God has favored us.”

Hundreds of supporters, responding to his pleas for help, descended on Bundy’s ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada, about 75 miles northeast of Las Vegas, in a show of force to demand that his impounded livestock be returned.

Police and government agents, vastly outgunned, ultimately retreated rather than risk bloodshed, and no shots were ever fired.

Prosecutors contend Bundy and his followers were defying the rule of law by threat of violence, rather than engaging in an act of legal protest.

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Submitted by American on Wed, 12/20/2017 - 21:51

Why post this lopsided article painting Bundy as a common criminal? There is much more to the story than him not paying grazing fees. Similar to what is happening to the Hammonds in Oregon, but that must be hard to see from the left.

Submitted by I don’t believe on Thu, 12/21/2017 - 01:37

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Submitted by Carl Smith on Thu, 12/21/2017 - 07:55

Way to go, Mr. Bundy,

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 12/21/2017 - 08:54

His “followers”? Seriously? More like his friends, neighbors, associates, supporters. He isn’t a cult leader. That language use conveys a VERY biased image. Not a fan. If you’re going to report, do it with journalistic integrity.

Submitted by Cattle owner on Thu, 12/21/2017 - 15:14

If Bundy did not want to pay for a cheap govt grazing lease....let him go pay for a much more expensive private grazing lease like most cattle raisers have to do. He just wanted a free govt handout in the form of free grazing for his cattle. He knew the rules when he signed the lease!

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