Tuesday, May 17, 2016

RJ, other media argue against court secrecy in Bundy case

News organizations led by the Las Vegas Review-Journal have filed court papers bolstering their opposition to a government push for secrecy in the Bunkerville standoff case. Attorney Maggie McLetchie — who represents the Review-Journal, Battle Born Media and The Associated Press — argued federal prosecutors have failed to establish good cause for a proposed “expansive protective order” to withhold their mass of evidence from the public in the high-profile case. Prosecutors contend a protective order is needed to ensure the safety of witnesses. In recent court papers, prosecutors cited examples of anti-government “cyber bullying” by defendants charged in the April 2014 armed confrontation involving Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy, his followers and law enforcement. But according to McLetchie, none of the social media examples “constitute actual, specific threats” that justify putting all of the government evidence under an “impenetrable shroud of secrecy.” Last week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen issued an interim order maintaining the confidentiality of the evidence, as prosecutors met a court-imposed deadline to begin turning over documents to the defense. Leen expects the order to remain in effect for weeks until she decides whether to issue a permanent one barring public disclosure of the evidence. Prosecutors want to prohibit defense lawyers from making public copies of critical trial evidence, including sworn search warrant affidavits and FBI investigative reports. Lawyers for most of the 19 defendants, including Bundy and four of his sons, also oppose the government proposal...more

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