Tuesday, 17 July, 2018

Judge Dismisses Case Involving Armed Standoff With Federal Agents

Judge dismisses charges against Cliven Bundy orders him freed from prison Getty Images
Melinda Barton | 09 January, 2018, 04:06

The case against Bundy, 71, and four other defendants, including his sons Ammon and Ryan, was declared a mistrial in December, after Judge Navarro determined federal prosecutors had withheld massive amounts of exculpatory evidence from the defense.

U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in the case last month, saying federal prosecutors willfully withheld evidence that lawyers for the Bundys and alleged co-conspirator Ryan Payne should have had access to while mounting their defense.

A weekslong standoff ensued, ending only when the federal government backed down - though the men were arrested almost two years later. On Monday, she dismissed outright all 15 counts against Bundy, his sons and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne.

A US judge on Monday dismissed the criminal case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and three other men on charges stemming from an armed 2014 standoff with federal law enforcement officers over a cattle grazing rights dispute. "The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated", Navarro said.

It is the latest episode in a decades-old conflict between ranchers and the government over use of public land.

On Monday, she dismissed the case "with prejudice", meaning the government can not retry the defendants. Namely, Navarro explained that federal prosecutors had failed to disclose information from cameras recording video from the standoff and the presence of federal snipers around the Bundy Ranch.

Of the six other men who faced a trial for their role in the 2014 confrontation, only two were convicted of some charges - and none of them was convicted of conspiracy.

A decision is due in Las Vegas whether to end the criminal prosecution of a Nevada rancher and followers accused of leading an armed uprising against federal authorities.

The collapse of the case is a stunning failure for the US attorney's office in Nevada.

The Bureau of Land Management oversees much of the land west of the Rocky Mountains.

Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said prosecutors had bungled the case and let the Bundys succeed in breaking the law. That eventually led to an armed standoff between the Bundys, their allies, and federal agents. "The failure of this case will only embolden this violent and racist anti-government movement that wants to take over our public lands".