Reuters is reporting Chief US District Judge Gloria Navarro is declaring a mistrial is the government’s highly controversial criminal prosecution of Cliven Bundy over a range-land dispute that led to a days-long armed standoff in 2014:
Bundy, two of his sons and another man had been charged with 15 counts of criminal conspiracy and other violations stemming from the confrontation, which galvanized right-wing militia groups challenging federal authority over vast tracts of public lands in the American West.
U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro told federal prosecutors that they had willfully violated evidence rules and failed to turn over pertinent documents to the defense.
Navarro had warned prosecutors last week that she might declare a mistrial after listing documents previously undisclosed by prosecutors that could be used to impeach government witnesses or bolster defendants’ arguments that they felt surrounded by government snipers prior to the standoff.
In a stinging rebuke on Wednesday, Navarro said prosecutors knew or should have known of the existence of memos from FBI agents that may have been helpful to the defense.
Those memos and other documents, some 3,300 pages in all, were not turned over until well after an Oct. 1 deadline, and then only after repeated efforts by Bundy’s defense counsel, Navarro said.
However, Reuters fails to make any mention of an Obama-era whistleblower named Larry Wooten who came forward with a shocking 17-page memo submitted to the Attorney General last month that details the extreme bias and bad faith on the part of the government investigators:
I routinely observed, and the investigation revealed a widespread pattern of bad judgment, lack of discipline, incredible bias, unprofessionalism and misconduct, as well as likely policy, ethical, and legal violations among senior and supervisory staff.
Wooten was a BLM Special Agent on the team investigating the senior Bundy and his sons, until he was removed from the case in February 2017 (page six of the .pdf memo below).
This all comes on the heels of Cliven Bundy, son Ammon Bundy and co-defendant Ryan Payne being released from federal custody, as reported by The Oregonian:
A federal judge Wednesday ordered Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy, his son Ammon Bundy and co-defendant Ryan Payne be released to house arrest as their federal conspiracy trial is underway in Las Vegas.
But the senior Bundy said he wouldn’t accept the release conditions and objected to being let out of custody while other co-defendants in the Bunkerville standoff case still remain behind bars, according to his lawyer Bret Whipple.
“Cliven Bundy is a man of principle and the conditions of his release violated his principles,” Whipple said. “His position is he never did anything wrong so he felt accepting the conditions of his release would be acknowledging wrongdoing.”
The sudden reversal by U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro came at the end of the day, following a sealed court hearing Wednesday morning in which the judge and lawyers from both sides addressed multiple pending defense motions seeking dismissal of the case due to alleged delays or alleged withholding of discovery evidence by the federal government of information that could help in the defendants’ case.
“Judge Navarro reevaluated the weight of the evidence and found her concerns were mitigated,” said Daniel Hill, one of Ammon Bundy’s lawyers.
It remains unclear if the Judge’s ruling Wednesday is with or without prejudice, meaning the government may have the option to prosecute the Bundys again.
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