— Friday, January 18, 2019 — www.eenews.net
U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco has yet to decide whether federal prosecutors should attempt to force a new trial of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons — more than five months after the Justice Department requested to do so, according to newly filed court documents.
DOJ Appellate Chief and Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth White revealed Francisco’s apparent indecision on Wednesday in a request to delay opening briefs in the case, which centers on a 2014 armed standoff between the Bundys and their supporters and the Bureau of Land Management.
“Despite the government’s diligent efforts, the Solicitor General’s review of the matter is not yet complete,” White wrote, pointing to the “massive” record in the case. “His Office, and the Solicitor General himself, are carefully reviewing the issues, the record, and the draft government brief.”
The new motion marks the third time federal prosecutors have asked for an extension in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and would push the deadline for opening briefs to Feb. 6.
“Although the government has exercised and continues to exercise diligence, additional time is needed for the Solicitor General to make a determination whether to seek appellate review,” she added.
Bundy and his sons Ryan Bundy and Ammon Bundy faced trial in 2017 on various criminal charges stemming from their 2014 standoff with federal land managers who were attempting to round up Cliven Bundy’s cattle for auction to satisfy more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees and trespass fines.
Cliven Bundy has long sparred with federal land managers and has refused to sign any grazing agreements since 1993, despite allowing his cattle to roam on public lands surrounding his 160-acre ranch in eastern Nevada.
But U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada Chief Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial and dismissed that criminal indictment in December 2017, after finding that federal prosecutors had withheld key information from defendants. Navarro also rejected requests from federal prosecutors to reinstate portions of the criminal indictment needed to stage a retrial (Greenwire, July 5, 2018).
Federal prosecutors filed a “protective notice of appeal” in the 9th Circuit in August, and opening briefs were originally slated to be filed last November.
Cliven Bundy’s attorney, Larry Klayman, who has previously written to the solicitor general to ask that he forgo an appeal in the case, strenuously objects to any further delays (Greenwire, Dec. 26, 2018).
“It is thus time for ‘Main Justice’ as a whole to take responsibility, do the right thing and finally after almost a year ‘fish or cut bait’ rather than continuing to allow this U.S. Attorney’s office to unethically and illegally ‘jerk around’ if not persecute my client, whose co-Defendants include his sons, Ryan and Ammon Bundy, as well as the other dismissed defendants,” Klayman wrote.
He continued: “To keep this appeal hanging over the head of my client and his co-defendants is more than unconscionable: it is unprofessional and grossly unethical, and calculated only to inflict more severe emotional distress on them and to ‘circle the wagons’ around those ‘bad actors’ in this U.S. Attorney’s office who themselves, rather than the defendants, committed crimes.”
White’s newest motion notes that attorneys for Ammon Bundy and Montana resident Ryan Payne, also a co-defendant in the case, do not oppose the government’s request for more time. She did not contact Ryan Bundy, who has served as his own counsel in the case (Greenwire, Feb. 26, 2018).
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