Ryan Bundy, a son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, argued before a judge Friday that he should be released from federal custody as he awaits charges stemming from the 2014 armed standoff near Bunkerville.
Bundy, arguing on his own behalf, told U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. in Las Vegas that he can’t adequately prepare for his case while detained and asserted that his right to a speedy trial have been violated.
“I am not afraid of the truth,” said Bundy, 44. “I just want the truth brought out.”
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre argued against releasing Bundy, saying his arguments have no merit and the charges against him are serious.
Foley indicated he’ll issue a written decision soon on whether to have a detention hearing, a more formal proceeding that would allow Bundy to call witnesses.
Bundy opened his presentation by telling the judge he wanted to start with a “word of prayer.” Foley said he could, provided it was short. He then offered a brief prayer of thanks that “truth will prevail.”
Bundy went on to say that he deserves a full evidentiary hearing with a chance to call witnesses, arguing the government hasn’t brought any evidence.
“There were a pack of lies that were told, but no evidence,” he said. “I want to be able to dispel those lies.”
“The Justice Department is deceiving this court,” Bundy said, adding he’s not a danger to anyone and there’s “no reason” to continue detaining him.
With his family looking on, he spoke of his need to provide for his wife, Angie, and their eight children.
“It’s my responsibility and my duty to make a living for them,” he said. “I owe this to them. I love them and they love me.”
He added: “It’s Christmas your honor, and I would like to be with them.”
Myhre responded that Bundy had a family in April 2014 when the standoff happened and should have been thinking of them then. As for his need to prepare for trial, Myhre said Bundy has had access to a court-appointed attorney yet chose to represent himself, despite being warned by the court that the case is complex.
Bundy is one of 17 defendants facing charges in the case, which is expected to have three trials. The first one is due to start Feb. 6. Other defendants include Cliven Bundy and Ryan’s brothers, Ammon, David and Melvin.
Ryan Bundy faces charges that include conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer and use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.
The standoff occurred when Cliven Bundy and armed supporters confronted federal agents who had seized his cattle in a dispute over grazing on public lands without paying grazing fees to the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM had obtained a court order prior to impounding the cattle, but agents released them to avoid bloodshed.
No shots were fired in the standoff, which attracted hundreds of Bundy supporters and sympathizers, many of them distrustful of the federal government.
All the defendants remain in federal custody.
Ryan Bundy has been in federal custody since Jan. 26, when he and Ammon Bundy were arrested during a 41-day standoff and occupation at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. In that case, a jury in Portland found the Bundys not guilty of federal charges.