Michael Stickler | Feb 13, 2019
The government case against Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy has taken another strange twist. Bundy rose to national prominence in 2014, during a confrontation with the government over their supposed authority over Nevada’s public land ownership and management. What Cliven Bundy called a “protest” was spun as a “standoff” by the government and media – the Feds quickly and falsely labeling some Bundy supporters as threats to law enforcement and “domestic terrorists.”
In this saga’s latest chapter, government prosecutors finally did appeal the trial judge’s dismissal of felony conspiracy and weapons charges against Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan and militia member Ryan Payne. Having declared a mis-trial the month before, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro’s hardly-unexpected January 8, 2018 dismissal cited “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct.”
In their third filing-limit extension request, filed last month with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth White wrote that “the solicitor general has authorized the government’s appeal.”
White’s February 6thappeal asks the 9thCircuit to reverse Navarro’s dismissal and send the case back to federal court in Nevada. It argues that Navarro’s action doesn’t meet criteria for dismissal with prejudice because Navarro ignored the broad range of remedies short of dismissal with prejudice.
“The extraordinary remedy of dismissal with prejudice was far out of proportion to such violations,’’ White wrote. “Any missteps were inadvertent (or at worst negligent), and those errors did not merit the court’s strong condemnation of the prosecution team,’’ White added.
White asserts that the government “failed to disclose some documents as a result of ‘simple inadvertence.” Others, she said, weren’t disclosed because prosecutors “weren’t aware they existed or couldn’t find them.” Additional documents weren’t disclosed because prosecutors “didn’t think they were relevant to the defendants’ case.”
In other words, we did it,
but we didn’t mean to.
The filing also raises security concerns over the “Bundy followers” by painting them with the “domestic terrorist” brush.
Prosecutors cite “Security and Discovery Concerns” among their reasons for the appeal, noting previous efforts necessary to protect witnesses and victims from “real and on-going threats.” These alleged threats included what prosecutors called “examples of real-life and on-line vigilantism and harassment suffered in this case by victims, witnesses, and law enforcement officers.”
A magistrate judge recounts how Bundy’s online followers prompted more than 500 threatening and harassing phone calls to a BLM Chief Ranger, including at least one obscene death threat. One photograph (redacted by the government for officer safety) had been shared online more than 1,400 times.
Elsewhere, the government has attempted to tie Cliven to a Las Vegas cop killing by a carefully spinning the news coverage to portray Jerad and Amanda Miller – who had killed two Metro police officers in east Las Vegas two months after the standoff and then died in the shootout with police – as “Bundy Followers.” While the Millers had visited the Bundy Ranch soon after the protest concluded, they were quickly characterized as “strange” by Ranch security and sent away.
In reality, the prosecutors are overstating the importance of the Bundys as a security threat hoping to keep the new trial out of the public eye. In the federal system, prosecutors can close the courtroom, barring the media and spectators from attending or sealing all evidence in the case from the public to avoid leaks to the press and online.
While it’s not likely the 9thCircuit Court of Appeals will overturn the decision, if they do, the case goes back to Navarro, and the trial process begins anew.
The notoriously liberal 9thCircuit could take one to two years to rule on the appeal – and could also find Navarro was discriminatory in her ruling and appoint a different judge for the new trial. Under current rules, the first trial would be ignored, and the Bundy’s would essentially face the same charges as if they had never been to trial.
But most disturbing, if the case does go back to trial, Bundy’s defense team will not be allowed to enter into evidence the truly egregious misconduct of the FBI, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or prosecutors in the first case. The only behavior that would be part of the trail would be that of the Bundys and Payne.
In the coming weeks, I will give you an in-depth analysis of the appeal, comparing it to the facts I’ve presented in my book, Cliven Bundy American Patriot. Stay tuned…
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, ex-felon, and a highly sought after conference speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column. (MikeStickler.com)