The Justice Department filed an appeal Wednesday of its devastating defeat against Cliven Bundy in the Nevada standoff, disputing the federal judge’s decision last year to throw out the case based on prosecutorial wrongdoing.
The 88-page motion, filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, challenged Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro’s blistering finding of “flagrant” misconduct, which prompted her to declare a mistrial in December 2017 and dismiss the charges a month later.
LAS VEGAS – A year after a judge dismissed charges against rancher Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and another man, an appeal is coming.
Federal prosecutors announcing this week they are challenging a decision by a U.S. District Court judge to declare a mistrial and dismiss the case against the four men related to the armed standoff near Bunkerville, Nevada back in 2014.
The vast valley surrounding the Virgin River sprawls for miles in every direction. Recent rains have left the range lush with vegetation.
Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they plan to appeal their demoralizing defeat in the Nevada standoff trial, which saw a federal judge rebuke prosecutors for “flagrant misconduct” and dismiss all charges against rancher Cliven Bundy and two of his sons.
Elizabeth O. White, assistant U.S. attorney for Nevada, assured the court that the appeal would be filed by Feb. 6 after asking for a 14-day extension, saying the “review process is complete and the Solicitor General has authorized the government’s appeal.”
“Undersigned counsel further advises that the draft brief is nearly complete, editing of the completed portions has begun, and she has begun the laborious process of preparing the excerpts of record and updating the record citations in brief to the excerpts of record,” Ms. White said in the motion.
The Justice Department already had requested and received two extensions, but it was unclear until Wednesday whether prosecutors would go forward with the appeal.
Bundy attorney Larry Klayman condemned the decision to file the appeal, which would go before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. He accused the government of “circling the wagons” to protect prosecutors, including former Acting U.S. Attorney for Nevada Steven Myhre.
OJ 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.”
Brian “Booda” Cavalier, 47, of Mesa, Arizona, was told he won’t serve any more time than the 20 months he spent in federal custody between his arrest in early 2016 and his guilty plea in October 2017 to two charges of conspiracy to impede and injure a federal officer.
Navarro also sentenced Cavalier to one year of federal supervision, ordered him to undergo substance abuse treatment and prohibited him from communicating with other people connected with the standoff.
Cavalier also pleaded guilty to a weapons charge in Oregon and was sentenced in 2016 to time already served in federal custody in Portland for his role in a 41-day armed occupation of a wildlife refuge with more than two dozen people including Bundy sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy in January 2016.
The federal government is preparing to appeal the dismissal of charges against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his sons, and supporters for the 2014 armed standoff with Bureau of Land Management agents
LAS VEGAS— A Nevada state court judge today granted the Center for Biological Diversity’s motion to challenge a lawsuit filed by rancher Cliven Bundy, who wants to seize more than 58 million acres of publicly owned federal lands, including national parks and monuments. Having granted the Center “intervenor” status in the case, the court can soon consider the Center’s motion to dismiss Bundy’s case.
“Cliven Bundy’s futile, rambling case is based on discredited legal theories. It’s a waste of the court’s time and taxpayer money,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center. “Bundy already owes more than a million dollars in grazing fees after flouting the law for decades and trashing critical wildlife habitat. I’m pleased the court has allowed us to intervene in this case. Hopefully the next step will be to dismiss it.”
But while Bundy’s battle with BLM over grazing fees appears to be dormant, his fight with federal prosecutors may not be over.
Although Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro barred federal prosecutors from seeking a new trial against Bundy and his sons, the government filed a “protective notice of appeal” in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this summer.
Federal prosecutors are required to file their opening brief in that case by Jan. 2, with a response from Bundy and his sons by Feb. 1.
Three years before the impoundment of Cliven Bundy’s cattle turned into an armed confrontation between anti-government groups and federal agents, the FBI made an assessment that the Nevada rancher personally was unlikely to be violent in the event of conflict. The agency suggested a novel solution to Bundy’s 20 years of unpaid bills, one designed to put the dispute to rest: drop the fines he owed altogether.
The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, based in Quantico, Va., determined in 2011 that the rancher was unlikely to comply with federal court orders to move his 900 animals off federal land, where they had been illegally grazing, because “he only has enough land to handle less than 100 head of cattle.” Though the Bureau of Land Management was concerned that allowing Bundy to avoid paying federal grazing fees and fines could lead to violence, the FBI thought otherwise.
“BLM may wish to consider waiving the existing fines, as a gesture of willingness to participate in discussions geared toward negotiations,” the FBI wrote in the classified analysis, obtained by The Washington Post. The unit concluded that any alternatives the government could offer Bundy might reduce the rancher’s stress and “in turn, reduce the risk of a violent act.”
Bunkerville resident Cliven Bundy has a plan for much of the public land in northeastern Clark County. And he wants to share it with all the neighboring residents of the area, as well as get their input.
The world-renown rancher, known for taking a firm position against federal government agencies in a 2014 standoff over grazing rights, will be presenting a comprehensive draft land use plan to the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board (MVTAB) on Wednesday, December 12 in the Overton Community Center. The meeting starts at 7:00 pm.
“This is being presented in draft form because I would really like to have the input of the people of northeastern Clark County added to it,” Bundy said last week in an interview with the Progress. “That is why I’m bringing it to the local town boards. I’d like to have a lot of people turn out and make comments on it.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is asking a judge in Nevada to dismiss Cliven Bundy’s latest lawsuit seeking state control of federal land, arguing his claims lack merit and have been rejected numerous times already.
The center on Thursday filed a request to dismiss Bundy’s lawsuit and a motion to intervene in the case in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas. The center is a nonprofit environmental organization that cites protecting endangered species and their habitats as its mission.
Ammon Bundy has called to the jurors of the Bunkerville Trial to view the hidden evidence in the case.
It has been well documented that the prosecution team, led by Steven Myhre, kept vital information from the jurors, as well as Judge Navarro.
Navarro, in December 2017, declared a mistrial in the case against Cliven Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy and Ryan Payne. She specifically cited several instances of “Brady violations” from the prosecution, evidence that was not turned over to the defense which could have benefited their case.
An example of the hidden information is the knowledge of government snipers overlooking the Bundy house during the days and weeks leading up to the Bunkerville standoff in 2014.
DISMISSAL IS CONSIDERED an extreme remedy for prosecutor misconduct. Judges often declare a mistrial but let the indictments stand, thus allowing prosecutors the option of taking the case before another grand jury.
As Myhre noted in his brief, the Chapman case seems to be the only ruling in which the 9th Circuit has ever upheld outright dismissal of indictments due to prosecutorial misconduct. And Navarro found plenty of similarities when comparing Damm’s misconduct in Chapman to Myhre’s actions in the Bundy trial.
As in Chapman, Myhre and his office failed to turn over hundreds of pages of evidence, particularly FBI reports, logs, maps, and threat assessments, Navarro found. And, like Damm, Myhre and his office made “several misrepresentations” to the defense and the court, both about the existence of certain evidence and its importance, she ruled.
In one instance, Navarro said, the prosecution made “a deliberate attempt to mislead and to obscure the truth.” At the mistrial hearing in December, she criticized Myhre for calling an internal affairs report about one of the Bundy investigators an “urban legend.” When the report surfaced, Myhre told the court his “urban legend” comment was “based on the government’s inability to verify its existence, let alone find it,” and not an attempt to deceive.
After a stormy year, the long tenure of Steven Myhre as the No. 2 prosecutor in the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office has ended under secrecy.
Within the past month, Myhre left his job as first assistant to Interim U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson and took on new duties in the office as a senior litigation counsel, several former federal prosecutors who have spoken with office members told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
His new position comes with no supervisory responsibilities, but allows him to mentor and train younger attorneys, according to a Justice Department manual.
Last May, Myhre, who spent about 15 years as first assistant in the office, was ordered to undergo anti-sex discrimination training as a result of a federal case filed by a female prosecutor during the tenure of former U.S. Attorney Greg Brower in 2008 and 2009.
Lifelong Southern Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, recently cleared of federal charges and freed from jail after nearly two years, has turned his sights on state and county government.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Clark County District Court, Bundy claimed that former President Barack Obama’s late 2016 establishment of the Gold Butte National Monument, which occurred while the rancher was in federal custody, was “as illegal as it is unlawful” and would preclude him from continuing to function on his land “and destroy the petitioner’s livelihood.”
Bureau of Land Management officials in Las Vegas postponed discussion of the monument at its meetings this month until the Trump administration decides on possible changes to the Obama-era land designation.
“Recognizing that the land is not owned by the United States of America, (Bundy) has avoided erroneously giving money to an entity which does not actually own the land and has been careful not to give money erroneously to a stranger to the land,” according to the rancher’s lawsuit. “Thus, there is an actual, significant legal controversy of great consequence not only to petitioner in terms of as to whom has ownership and jurisdiction of the land but to People of Nevada and Clark county, the rightful owners of Nevada land.”
“Cliven Bundy was accused of conspiracy against the government,” reported the Western Livestock Journal in a January 8 article on the Bundy ruling. “Instead,” it noted, “the Bundy trial showed it was the government that was conspiring against him.” That charge does not exaggerate in the least the gravity of the government’s wrongdoing in the case.
During her ruling of a mistrial on December 20, Judge Navarro spent nearly 45 minutes reading from the bench, details of the federal misconduct, that she found to be so outrageous and flagrant. A central component of that misconduct concerned the government’s willful withholding of thousands of pages of evidence that supported the Bundys’ defense, and to which the defendants were legally entitled.
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.
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.
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 (AP) — A federal judge offered to release a rancher and states’ rights figure from custody during his trial on charges involving an armed standoff that stopped a government cattle roundup three years ago in Nevada.
But Cliven Bundy refused to leave jail while others are still behind bars awaiting trial in the case.
Bundy, 71, didn’t state his reason in court Wednesday. But his wife, Carol Bundy, noted in a courthouse hallway that two other sons, Mel and David Bundy, are approaching two years in federal detention.
Ammon Bundy, on trial with his rancher father Cliven Bundy, was released from jail Thursday morning.
A crowd of about 50 supporters and family members, including Ammon Bundy’s wife and six children, cheered and hugged him as he walked out of the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas.
His brother, Ryan, another defendant facing a jury on charges connected with the 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville, was among those in the crowd. The two hugged briefly before Ammon Bundy spoke with reporters.
“Freedom is important,” he said, wearing a blue-and-white plaid shirt, bluejeans and orange sandals. “It’s important because of our families. It’s important because of the great things we enjoy every day as Americans. America has always been an example of freedom, an example of family, an example of what’s good in this world. And really all my family has ever tried to do is just promote that.”
The Bundy trial continues into its next phase in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cliven Bundy, with sons Ryan and Ammon, and their co-defendant Ryan Payne, face felony charges that could result in over 100 years in prison for each.
Directly after opening statements, the prosecution “opened” its case against the Bundy’s and Payne. The prosecution will be in charge of much of the narrative in the next month or two until they “rest” their case. They will be calling the witnesses who are most favorable to the governments theory; usually government employees of the BLM, FBI and other law enforcement agencies. The defendants will be allowed to cross-examine the governments witnesses. The Bundy’s and Payne will have their turn to “open” their case after the government has “rested” theirs.