Thomas Mitchell: Bundy case judge trying to prevent jury nullification

The retrial of four defendants in the 2014 Bunkerville standoff at the Bundy ranch got underway this past week in Las Vegas, and this time the prosecution and the judge seem determined to avoid another mistrial due to a hung jury by eviscerating defense arguments.

Federal Judge Gloria Navarro granted a prosecution motion to bar presentation of evidence “supporting jury nullification.”

In April, the first of three scheduled trials for the 17 Bunkerville defendants — charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, extortion, assault and impeding federal officers — ended in a mistrial. The jury found only two of six people on trial guilty of some charges but deadlocked on the others.

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Lawyers give opening statements in Bunkerville standoff retrial

Prosecutors and defense attorneys gave opening statements Monday in the retrial against four Bunkerville standoff defendants, and presented a new batch of jurors with a question that has hung over the federal courthouse all year.

Was the 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville the result of a coordinated assault or a mass protest?

The jury heard arguments to support both scenarios when lawyers spoke Monday in front of a packed federal courtroom in which Eric Parker, Steven Stewart, Scott Drexler and Ricky Lovelien are being retried. A mistrial was declared in April after the first jury deadlocked on all counts against those four men.

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Opening statements begin Monday in Bunkerville standoff retrial

The first jury for the retrial was nearly all-female, but after extensive arguments between the prosecution and defense last week, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro restructured the jury to replace three of the women with three men. Minority representation on the jury did not change.

Defense attorneys had rebutted the government’s claims with accusations that prosecutors tried to knock males off the jury. It was not apparent from last week’s arguments what fueled the gender dispute. Both sides had the opportunity to talk to the first jury after the mistrial in April, so it is possible that those conversations revealed patterns among demographic groups.

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Rallies support defendants in Bunkerville standoff case

Hundreds of supporters turned out at a Las Vegas event Saturday night supporting the defendants facing trial in the Bunkerville standoff case.

They gathered at Rainbow Gardens to hear speeches from Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore, members of the Bundy family and even Roger Stone, an on-and-off adviser for President Donald Trump.

A trial in the Bunkerville standoff case opens Monday at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse, but instead of trying a new set of defendants, prosecutors will begin their second attempt to convict four men accused of conspiring against the government with rancher Cliven Bundy.

The retrial comes after an April mistrial, when jurors deadlocked on 50 of the 60 counts against the first group of defendants in the three-part case. Prosecutors eventually plan to try 17 men on charges stemming from the April 2014 armed standoff between individual rights activists and Bureau of Land Management agents, who came to Bunkerville to seize Bundy’s cattle from public land over unpaid grazing fees.

The overarching theme at Saturday event: The “mainstream media” hasn’t given the Bundy family a voice.

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AG Sessions: ‘I’m not taking sides’ in Bundy case

Meanwhile, Roger Stone — the longtime on-and-off adviser to Trump — is scheduled to speak at a pro-Bundy rally in Las Vegas this weekend to raise money for the rancher’s legal defense fund.

“The Bundy Ranch case hasn’t gotten the proper coverage it deserves and what’s more outrageous is the Govt’s conduct towards 17 men arrested at a Rally in support of the Bundy family,” Stone said in an emailed statement.

The event is scheduled for Saturday evening at the Rainbow Gardens of Las Vegas, is described in a promotional YouTube video as “a benefit for the Patriots who stood up for the natural rights of all Americans currently serving time as political prisoners under the corruption of federal bureaucracies.

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Gary Hunt : Liberty or Laws? Justice or Despotism?

When the colonies severed their allegiance to England, in 1776, through the adoption of the Constitution in 1789, they had to have some form of law upon which to deal with matters, both criminal and civil.  To do so, they adopted the Common Law of England, as it existed on July 4, 1776.  This, then, became the foundation of laws upon which both the federal government and state governments began the process of developing their judicial systems.

What is important to understand is that the laws that they adopted were concerned with Justice.  For example, though Webster’s 1828 dictionary has no definition of “judicial”, an adjective, it does have one for that body that is responsible for that function of government, the Judiciary:

JUDI’CIARY, n.  That branch of government which is concerned in the trial and determination of controversies between parties, and of criminal prosecutions; the system of courts of justice in a government.  An independent judiciary is the firmest bulwark of freedom.

Through our history, there have been legal scholars who stand well above the current lot, in that their concern for justice was paramount in their considerations, and the subject of much of their scholarly writings.

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Retrial begins for four Bundy supporters from 2014 armed standoff

ury selection began Monday for a retrial of four men accused of conspiring against the government when they joined an armed protest with Cliven Bundy on his Nevada ranch in 2014.

Eric Parker, Scott Drexler, Steven Stewart and Ricky Lovelien were present during a tense confrontation in Bunkerville between Bureau of Land Management agents who were trying to seize cattle from Bundy.

The case centers around constitutional issues including free speech and land and gun rights. The U.S. attorney’s office for the state of Nevada would not comment on pending litigation.

The retrial follows a mistrial that occurred this past April when jurors couldn’t decide on the first group of defendants in a three-tier case.

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Jury selection crucial in Bunkerville standoff retrial

Another trial in the Bunkerville standoff case opens Monday in Las Vegas, but instead of trying a new set of defendants, prosecutors will launch their second attempt to win convictions against four men accused of conspiring against the government with rancher Cliven Bundy.

The retrial follows a mistrial in April, when jurors deadlocked on 50 of the 60 counts against the first batch of defendants in the three-part case. Prosecutors eventually plan to try 17 men on charges resulting from the April 2014 armed standoff between individual rights activists and Bureau of Land Management agents, who came to Bunkerville to seize Bundy’s cattle from public land.

The hung jury did not come as a surprise to local court observers, who previously have said that the trial against the first group hinged on ideological issues that typically are not litigated inside a courtroom. In a 2 million-population metropolitan area built in the middle of a desert, federal jury pools draw people from rural and urban areas — with different political views, policy priorities and perceptions of law enforcement.

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Thomas Mitchell : Ownership of land better than paltry PILT payouts

It is that time of year again, when counties in Nevada and across the West squat on the street corner with their tin alms cups extended anxiously awaiting the tinkling sound of a few coins from the federal till — otherwise known as Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).

Since 1977 Congress has parsimoniously paid out pennies on the acre to local governments to make up for the land the federal government controls but on which it pays no local property taxes. Since 85 percent of Nevada land is controlled by various federal agencies that is a lot of property tax to forgo.

Just a few weeks ago the Trump administration budget for this year proposed limiting PILT funding to an average of the most recent 10 years or about $397 million, but this past week in Pahrump Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke announced at a meeting with various Nevada officials that the PILT largesse this year will be $464.6 million, a 6 percent increase over the previous year. The about-face was roundly ignored.

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Refuge occupier Eric Lee Flores sentenced to 2 years’ probation, 5 months’ home detention

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Eric Lee Flores to two years of probation, including five months of home detention, for his role in the January 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Flores, 23, was the second defendant to plead guilty on June 9, 2016, admitting he conspired to impede federal employees from carrying out their work at the federal wildlife sanctuary in Harney County through intimidation, threat or force.

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A Federal Court Asks Jurors to Confront Their Hidden Biases

But is a novel video tutorial the best way? The jury is still out.

There’s something of a formula to the first morning of jury duty. It might involve a refresher on differences between civil and criminal cases, a little bit of shuffling between rooms, and a lot of waiting around in a generously named “Jury Lounge.” But in one federal district, the customary civics lessons for jurors have been given a twist to alert them to the hidden biases they might bring into the courtroom.The source is an 11-minute video — believed to be the first of its kind — that since March has been shown to every prospective juror in the two federal courthouses, in Seattle and Tacoma, that serve the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

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A bullet hole, a mystery and an FBI agent’s indictment — the messy aftermath of the Oregon refuge standoff

The shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum on a snowy Oregon highway on Jan. 26, 2016, was one of those instant American dramas in which every photo, every eyewitness account and every millisecond of video become forensic evidence in a public debate over whether someone deserved to die at the hands of police.

In classic fashion, two sides examined the same evidence and saw two different things. To the government, Finicum, 55, was reaching for a loaded gun in his jacket after speeding away from a traffic stop, and the shooting by Oregon State Police troopers was justified.

To thousands of antigovernment activists across the country, the Arizona rancher was a folk hero who became a martyr when, in their view, he was ambushed — shot in the back without a gun in his hand — by overaggressive law enforcement officials who were trying to crush the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

But when it came to one mysterious piece of evidence in the case, the two sides were bothered by the same question: Where did the bullet hole in the roof of Finicum’s truck come from?

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LaVoy Finicum shooting: Indictment of agent ‘devastating’ for FBI

An indictment accusing an FBI agent of lying to hide that he fired two shots at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum and missed caps an 18-month investigation that began with Oregon sheriff’s detectives who followed “where the evidence led,” their commander said Wednesday.

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson credited his investigators for their tenaciousness and said he was “disappointed and angry” that the FBI agent’s alleged deceit and actions “damage the integrity of the entire law enforcement profession.”

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Prosecution of FBI agents is rare

The pursuit of criminal charges against an FBI agent for allegedly lying about firing his gun at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum in January 2016 is a rare occurrence.

Only a fraction of the FBI’s agents have ever faced prosecution for alleged malfeasance on the job. Currently, the FBI employs about 13,000 agents.

Among those convicted in the past few years are a Los Angeles-area agent who stole drug money to pay for cars and plastic surgery; an agent who fed his drug addiction by stealing heroin seized as evidence; and a high-ranking agent who perjured himself about his dealings with a Boston gangster.

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FBI agent indicted for alleged false statements in LaVoy Finicum shooting

An FBI agent has been indicted on federal accusations that he lied about firing at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum last year as police arrested the leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.

The agent will face allegations of making a false statement with intent to obstruct justice, according to sources familiar with the case.

The indictment stems from a more than year-long investigation by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice. The agent will be identified when he’s summoned to appear in U.S. District Court in Portland at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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Interior Secretary Zinke says he’ll tour Nevada national monuments in July

PAHRUMP — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke didn’t stop at any national monuments during his first official visit to Nevada, but he promised to return for a tour of Gold Butte and Basin and Range before the end of July.

During an event in Pahrump on Monday, Zinke said he wants to see the two Nevada monuments from the ground and talk to stakeholders before he decides whether the designations should be reduced, rescinded or left intact.

He said he doesn’t have any “preconceived ideas” about the two Obama-era monuments, though he indicated that his recent recommendations on Bears Ears National Monument in Utah provide a blueprint for what might happen here.

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