a blistering rebuke to the federal government, a judge dismissed all
charges against rancher Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and militia member
Ryan Payne stemming from an armed standoff with federal agents in 2014.
Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro issued a scathing analysis of the government’s conduct, terming it “outrageous.”
“There has been flagrant misconduct, substantial prejudice and no lesser remedy is sufficient,” she said.
The charges were dismissed “with prejudice,” which means the federal government will not be able to retry the men.
One of the lawyers helping the family, Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch,
earlier had written to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him to
investigate the FBI’s actions, and prosecute those who had misbehaved.
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“It is hoped that after a
thorough investigation, that you will fire and thus prevent [FBI agents]
from doing further harm to not just the Bundys, but also the public at
large. They also should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, as
they are not above the law,” he said at the time.
Klayman, who was
portrayed on the television show “West Wing,” has been prevented by a
judge from joining the Bundys’ defense team, but has been active in
Monday, he told WND he had raised some of the same
issues that irritated the judge in a filing with the FBI’s inspector
general, as well as its Office of Professional Responsibility.
judge found that the conduct of the FBI and the prosecutors in part was
reprehensible and a flagrant violation of the law,” he said, for
withholding evidence and even destroying documents.
He described the outcome as a “great victory for the country.”
“We fought the ‘law,’ and we won,” he said.
Spectators cheered as the judge issued her ruling. Bundy and his co-defendants were facing charges including conspiracy, obstruction, and threats and assault of federal agents.
Navarro declared the Nevada U.S. Attorney’s Office had failed to disclose crucial evidence which would have helped the defense.
- Records about surveillance at the Bundy ranch
- Maps about government surveillance
- Records about the presence of government snipers
- FBI logs about activity at the ranch in the days leading up to standoff
- Law-enforcement assessments dating to 2012 that found the Bundys posed no threat
- Internal affairs reports about misconduct by Bureau of Land Management agents
The government also made false claims, said the judge, including denying the existence of snipers surveying the Bundy ranch, when such snipers existed.
standoff between federal agents and Bundy supporters resulted from the
government’s contention Bundy had been grazing his cattle on publicly
owned land and was therefore responsible for a huge amount in past fees.
Klayman, among others,
has argued the prosecution of the Bundy family was entirely political
rather than being rooted in any actual violation of the law.
of the Bundy family was championed by those who believe the federal
government has too much control over land in the American West and who
are suspicious of the federal government’s intentions.
suspicions will only be increased by the ruling on Monday, as Navarro’s
decision stated the federal government had violated the most basic rules
of conduct. Dan Hill, the lawyer for Cliven’s son Ammon, stated the ruling was “the clearest-cut, most-unwavering dismissal I’ve ever heard or seen.”
The ruling was not without its critics. Kieran Suckling, executive director of the “Center for Biological Diversity,” complained:
“The Bundys rallied a militia to mount an armed insurrection against
the government. The failure of this case will only embolden this violent
and racist anti-government movement that wants to take over our public
And a number of critics on Twitter, including some “verified accounts” approved by the social-media company, suggested the Bundys were only free because they were white.
White supremacist Cliven Bundy stole federal land
and then took up arms against law enforcement and threatened to kill
cops, and now he’s about to walk free. Those perks from systematic white
supremacy are awesome
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) January 8, 2018
Thanks to Ammon Bundy, 2016 Is Already a Banner Year for White Supremacy https://t.co/tGRhsMkVuv
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) January 8, 2018
But Ammon Bundy says he is proud of his family’s actions.
“We have rights,” he told reporters. “We’re not going to walk away from them and just let them be taken.”
Klayman also was leading the charge
filed by two others acquitted in the case, Montana resident Ricky
Lovelien and Idaho resident Steven Stewart, seeking damages from the
government for the false claims made against them.
The claims were filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act.