Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has long claimed he was wronged by the Obama administration’s overly aggressive prosecution of him and his family in 2014 over his refusal to pay bogus grazing fees he said he never owed.
Turns out he was exactly right.
As reported by The Daily Caller, court documents unsealed last week provide details about how a team of prosecutors assigned to convict Bundy and his sons Ammon and Ryan, along with family friend Ryan W. Payne, following an armed standoff near their Nevada ranch failed to hand over exculpatory evidence to a federal court.
As such, their case ended in a mistrial Dec. 20 after U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ruled that the prosecutors violated the defendants’ civil rights after withholding evidence that would have supported their case.
Now, Navarro is considering tossing the case out altogether “with prejudice,” a ruling which would block prosecutors from retrying the case. A decision is expected Jan. 8, The New York Times reported.
Two earlier trials against other defendants ended in hung juries, the Times noted further.
Among the exculpatory evidence the prosecution failed to turn over was a video taken from within the Bundy range during the standoff by a federal informant, evidence that the FBI had agents involved in the standoff, and a threat assessment of the Bundys that the government drafted.
“There were approximately 3,000 pages that were provided to us only after we started trial,” Bret D. Whipple, one of Cliven Bundy’s lawyers, told the Times. “I personally have never seen anything like this, especially in a case of such importance.”
“We’ve told everyone all along, ‘the truth will set us free,’” said Angie Bundy, the wife of Ryan Bundy. “It was the lies we’re worried about.”
Other evidence withheld from the court was an assessment by government officials that the Bundys were not violent people. “She cited all of that,” Angie Bundy said of Navarro. “At this point, I don’t know what kind of case they have against us.”
The Oregonian reported that attorneys for Ryan Payne requested in a July 5 email that prosecutors turn over all threat assessments prepared before the 2014 standoff, but prosecutors characterized the defendants’ frequent push for the assessments as one in a “long list of frivolous and vexatious pleadings.” As such, prosecutors withheld those assessments until the defendants were actually in court and in the midst of their trial. The existence of the assessments was confirmed by a government witness under cross-examination.
Failure to hand over the assessments was “just one example of the prosecution team’s callous disregard of its constitutional obligations to share with the defense any potentially favorable evidence, according to Payne’s lawyers,” The Oregonian reported. (Related: REPORT: BLM used ‘incredible bias’ during overly aggressive RAID of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.)
For more than 20 years Cliven Bundy has grazed his cattle on federal land in Nevada but refused to pay grazing fees, insisting he was not obligated to do so because he had inherited water rights on the land. In response, the BLM, during a heavily-armed raid, seized his cattle, killing some of them, in an attempt to force him to pay. The Bundys were supported immediately by dozens of armed neighbors who showed up to help protect and defend them.
In April 2014, Natural News founder/editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, wrote a column that was critical of the BLM for the way its agents handled the standoff with Bundy, noting prophetically that “the federal government is out of control yet again.”
A subsequent report in December substantiated Adams’ claims. BLM special agent Larry Wooten issued a report indicating that government agents very likely broke federal laws and used “incredible bias” against Bundy and his family during the incident while engaging in tactics of intimidation during the operation.
J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.