A half-inch piece of metal lodged in the shoulder of Oregon refuge occupier Ryan Bundy could become central to the federal government’s prosecution of an FBI agent accused of lying about firing two shots as police tried to arrest the 2016 takeover’s leaders.
When Bundy was arrested along U.S. 395, emergency medics found him bleeding and wrapped his wound in a dressing.
He was taken to Harney District Hospital, where an X-ray revealed a metal fragment next to his right shoulder bone, presumably from a gunshot.
“There’s a bullet in there,” Ryan Bundy told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “I can see what it is. It’s shaped like a bullet.”
Some think that the Bundys got off scot-free when U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed cases against Cliven, sons Ammon and Ryan, and co-defendant Ryan Payne and accused their prosecutors — the government — of willfully withholding evidence from Bundy lawyers in violation of the federal Brady rule, thus denying them due process. She referred to it as “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct” and set the defendants free “with prejudice,” preventing the government from trying them again on this case.
So what price did the Bundys pay for defending the Constitution and freedom? Cliven Bundy certainly felt it high: “I have been a political prisoner for more than 700 days.” Let’s review the story of Bundy justice.
In a July 5, 2017 email, Ryan Payne’s lawyers asked prosecutors for copies of all threat assessments prepared before the April 2014 standoff between Cliven Bundy’s supporters and federal officers attempting to impound the Bundy family cattle for years of failing to pay grazing fees and fines.
Prosecutors handling the Nevada standoff case characterized defendants’ continued push for access to the threat assessments as another in their “long list of frivolous and vexatious pleadings.”
Prosecutors didn’t turn over the multiple threat assessments to Payne and his co-defendants, Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy and his two sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, until the four were in the midst of trial in mid-November, and a government witness under cross-examination acknowledged familiarity with one of the reports.
The government’s withholding of multiple threat assessments by the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, the Southern Nevada Counterterrorism Task Force, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, and Gold Butte Cattle Impound Risk Assessment – which found the Bundys were not likely to use violence – was just one example of the prosecution team’s callous disregard of its constitutional obligations to share with the defense any potentially favorable evidence, according to Payne’s lawyers, assistant federal public defenders Brenda Weksler and Ryan Norwood.
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Though the most recent trial of four defendants in the April 2014 standoff between armed protesters and Bureau of Land Management agents trying to confiscate Cliven Bundy’s cattle ended in a mistrial, the case will stand as a historic example of how sweeping secrecy can cast doubt on whether justice is being served.
This past week U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro halted testimony in the trial and sent the jurors home while she heard arguments behind closed doors over whether the prosecution had failed to provide the defense with potentially exculpatory evidence quickly enough. The judge said the prosecution’s repeated failure to timely disclose information was “sufficient to undermine the confidence in the outcome of the trial,” which she said could result in a mistrial. This week she declared a mistrial.
Attorney Maggie McLetchie — representing the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper and Battle Born Media, which publishes weekly newspapers in Mesquite, Ely, Eureka, Sparks and Lincoln and Mineral counties — promptly filed a motion seeking to intervene, which was granted. The newspapers are asking that all documents previously filed under seal be unsealed and that future hearings be conducted in open court.
The lead prosecutor in the Nevada standoff case against Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and a fourth alleged ringleader told a jury in his opening statement last month that the case centered on the need to respect the rule of law.
Five weeks later, it was the prosecution team’s abuse of the rule of law that sunk the case, leading to a judge’s declaration Wednesday of a mistrial.
U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro methodically listed the prosecution’s six separate violations of the Brady law, which requires turning over evidence potentially favorable to the defense. The judge further ruled that each violation was willful.
If ever there was a time when federal prosecutors needed to make sure they acted with complete integrity it was in the high-stakes Bundy case, legal observers say. The defendants already held a deep suspicion of the government and had successfully rallied followers to their cause.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepped into the Bundy prosecution after Wednesday’s mistrial, ordering a third-party examination of the case in light of the latest government snafu.
“The attorney general takes this issue very seriously and has personally directed that an expert in the [Justice Department’s] discovery obligations be deployed to examine the case and advise as to the next steps,” said Ian D. Prior, the department’s principal deputy director of public affairs, in a late Wednesday statement.
The decision to intervene came after Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial over the government’s “willful failure to disclose information” to the defense, saying it would have been “impossible” for the four co-defendants to receive a fair trial.
In identifying the Misdeeds of Government, it requires a diligent search of available information. However, often that research produces some interesting results. That is the situation with this article, since it begins with events surrounding the arrest of Dave Bundy (The Bundy Affair – #12 – Dave Bundy’s Two Citations), on April 6, 2014, and ends with the declaration of Mistrial on Decembers 20, 2017. However, in that span of time, over three and a half years, the following events played out.
Dave Bundy was pulled over on Nevada State Highway 170, a road that goes from Interstate 15, near the road to the Bundy Ranch, to Bunkerville. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had attempted to close the highway.
Dave got into a dispute with the BLM and was arrested and charged with two citations (explained in the linked article above). It is this arrest that begins this series of events. First, we have, from the National Park Service “DIRECTOR’S ORDER #9: LAW ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM”, which, on page 2, explains when and where arrests may be made.
I received in the mail, with no return address, an 18 page email that I had heard about. However, the details in what I had heard were minimal, at best. But, having the whole 18 pages, I find that the initial, or original email was only 17 pages.
In an undated email from Larry Wooten to Andrew D. Goldsmith, Associate Deputy Attorney General, National Criminal Discovery Coordinator, Wooten writes of many misdeeds in the entire Gold Butte Impound Operation, that being the operation that unfolded near Bunkerville, Nevada, back in early April 2014.
In a cover email, the eighteenth page, to Steven Myhre, United States Attorney for the Nevada District, in a forwarded email, the 17 page emails is included for a total of 18 pages. Wooten explains in the cover email that his superiors, his chain of command, would not deal with what he had presented to them. I’m not quite sure why he sent it to Myhre, since Myhre is implicated in the information, along with any others.
Prosecutors shared it last week with defense lawyers for Bundy, his two sons and co-defendant Ryan Payne as they were in the midst of their conspiracy trial, but it’s not part of the public court record.
The memo prompted Cliven Bundy’s lawyer to file a motion early Monday to dismiss the case, already in disarray over concerns raised previously about the government’s failure to promptly share evidence with the defense.
The judge sent the jury home for more than a week as she tries to sort out the claims and prosecutors scramble to save their case.
The memo comes from Larry Wooten, who had been the lead case agent and investigator for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management after the tense confrontation outside the patriarch’s ranch near Bunkerville. Wooten also testified before a federal grand jury that returned indictments against the Bundys. He said he was removed from the investigation last February after he complained to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada.
Two days after federal judge suggested the possibility of a mistrial in the Bunkerville standoff case, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and a group of Nevada newspapers asked to unseal trial documents discussed behind closed courtroom doors.
‘There is insufficient basis to maintain certain motions and transcripts under seal in this case and to continue to close hearings to the public,” the motion filed Wednesday evening states. “Sealing documents and closing hearings is inimical to this Country’s and this Court’s long tradition of open trials, guaranteed by both the First Amendment and common law — a right of access that is always important, but particularly critical in this case.”
In his newly published book, “Wild Horse Country,” writer David Philipps offers his suggestion for what to do about the overpopulation of wild horses in the West, which are overgrazing the open range: “The solution is mountain lions.”
Realizing that this will leave horse-huggers aghast and cause cattle and sheep ranchers to gasp, Philipps forges ahead, “For decades, the BLM has said the wild horse has ‘no natural predators.’ … But the same people who have long dismissed using predators to control horses as impossible have never made an attempt to understand it. They have likely been too busy rounding up and storing horses. If they took the time to look into the idea of mountain lions, they would see that research on the ground contradicts the conventional wisdom.”
An inmate’s attempted escape from the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) facility along East Mesquite Avenue on Saturday prompted the response from Nye County sheriff’s deputies, authorities said.
CCA officials contacted the sheriff’s office regarding the escape attempt from the facility, also known as the Nevada Southern Detention Center, at approximately 12 p.m., a news release reported.
The release noted that sheriff’s office staff responded and set up a perimeter while CCA staff conducted a facility-wide headcount.
Last week, Cliven Bundy’s lawyer, Bret Whipple, said his client turned down U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro’s conditions of release because he believed he was innocent and would not accept restrictions on his freedom. He also said Cliven Bundy did not want others jailed in connection with the standoff.
Now that two more of his sons who were charged in the Bunkerville case have been let out of jail, and none of the standoff defendants awaiting trial remains behind bars, Whipple plans to discuss with his client the possibility of being with family for the holidays.
“I’m going to encourage him to allow me to help him,” Whipple said. “But at the end of the day, Cliven is a very principled man, and he follows his own principles, and I respect that.”
Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday recommended shrinking the boundaries of Gold Butte National Monument in a move that distressed conservationists, who have fought for years to protect the land near Mesquite. Zinke’s report came one day after the president slashed the size of two national monuments in Utah, a move that has already sparked a lawsuit.
Compared to the wholesale changes the president approved in Utah, any adjustments to Gold Butte are expected to be minor. But Zinke’s recommendations, although similar to a leaked draft in September, carry a symbolic weight for the area. They signal a major reversal of public lands policy that comes almost exactly one year after President Obama designated the nearly 300,000 acres that start about 10 miles from the site of the 2014 Bundy standoff.
“We will fight it in court,” Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director at the Center for Biological Diversity wrote in an email. “And we will win.”
LAS VEGAS – The Bureau of Land Management requests public input for a Revised Draft Southern Nevada District Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement.
The BLM has determined that a Revised Draft RMP/EIS should be developed and an opportunity for public input is needed to gather additional information on the areas of renewable energy, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, lands with wilderness characteristics, land tenure adjustments (land disposals), Gold Butte National Monument, and socio-economics.
Opportunity to provide input is offered from now until February 2, 2018. During this period, the BLM will conduct public meetings to present information and provide for the opportunity for public input. The Revised Draft RMP/EIS will incorporate substantive comments received from the initial Draft RMP/EIS and information received from the public input period and meetings.
Jon Ritzheimer, a military veteran who led and recruited others to the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison and must spend another 12 months in a residential re-entry program, a federal judge ordered Thursday.
Ritzheimer, dressed in a blue suit and tie with a band of military medals from his two tours of Marine Corps Reserve duty in Iraq pinned to his jacket, apologized to the judge and those impacted by the 41-day occupation of the federal bird sanctuary in Harney County.
“I did read through the victim reports, and I do believe people were genuinely afraid,” he said. “It absolutely was not my intent for anyone to feel that way…I am extremely sorry for this entire mess.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel urged U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown to sentence Ritzheimer to two years in prison, citing his leadership and “aggravating” role in the occupation.