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Nevada Today

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Appeal Denied In Bundy Case

Cliven Bundy, center, Photo by Andrew Davey

San Francisco, Cal. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the Justice Department’s motion for a retrial in their case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons Ryan and Ammon.

Originally Bundy and his sons and others were on trial for their role in an April 2014 armed standoff against federal agents near Bunkerville, NV. The Agents were attempting to collect more than a million dollars in grazing fees the elder Bundy failed to pay over the years.

In July 2018, Nevada Chief Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the 16-count indictment against Bundy and his co-defendants with prejudice. She alleged that prosecutors withheld information from the defendants.  Prosecutors argue that the “with prejudice” comment denied them an opportunity for a retrial.

Nonetheless, on February 6, 2019, Federal Prosecutors asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court to bring the Bundy’s and Ryan W. Payne back into court to face felony charges following the 2014 armed standoff.

During the appeal, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth White argued that Judge Navarro went too far in her ultimate decision in the Bundy trial, and said prosecutors had not intentionally tried to misdirect the defendants and jurors. A new test, she argued, would “certainly cure” the problems in the original trial.

The appeals court upheld Judge Navarro. “We can find no grounds for concluding that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing this indictment with prejudice,” Judge Jay Bybee of the 9th Circuit wrote in the decision. “Lesser sanctions — such as a continuance to allow the defendants to review discovery or declaring a mistrial and starting over — would have allowed the government to strengthen its case at the defendants’ expense.”

“Someone in the government made a conscious choice to withhold these documents,” Judge Bybee wrote. “It may not have been a malicious choice, but it also was not a matter of simple oversight.”

In another case on August 20, 2018, Bundy went to court with his absurd and fundamentally flawed notion that Nevada’s 56 million acres of public land belongs to the state. He lost. (Case # A-18-779718-C)

Nevada’s Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) had argued that “Bundy’s claims are barred by the doctrine of issue preclusion in light of previous adverse federal court decisions to which Bundy was a party.”

Three federal courts had previously rejected Bundy’s position, and on April 1, 2019, Eighth Judicial Court Judge Jim Crocket did the same.

Judge Crocket, in his ruling, said:  “It is painfully obvious that the claims asserted by Bundy in the instant matter rest upon a fundamentally flawed notion advanced by Bundy since 1998 regarding ownership of federal public lands in Nevada.”

While Bundy made a fool of himself in Clark County’s Judicial Court, his son Ryan, in October 2018, attempted to sue several federal officials in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

He went after former FBI Director James Comey, former BLM Director Neil Kornze, former Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, and Jefferson Sessions.

His claims stem from an April 2014 standoff at the Bundy ranch, where federal officials attempted to take Bundy cattle to compensate for unpaid grazing fees.  In his mind, these federal officials engaged in unlawful search and seizure and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, retaliation for the raid, arrest, and prosecution. As might be expected, he claimed all the defendants violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act since he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

On July 2, the district court dismissed the complaint, arguing that the case was factually implausible, and his claims of the conspiracy were unspecified.

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About Author

Michael McGreer Mesquite, Nevada
Dr. Michael Manford McGreer is managing editor of and writes on issues that impact public policy.

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