Thursday, November 17, 2016

Blogger wants new trial in dispute over BLM public lands

An attorney for a blogger convicted of illegal use of an ATV for taking part in a ride through a federally protected canyon in Utah told a federal appeals court on Thursday that his client deserves a new trial. Attorney Michelle Mumford said the trial of Monte Wells was tainted because the judge was friends with a conservation group lawyer. Wells took part in a ride in 2014 through parts of Recapture Canyon closed to motor vehicles because of ruins that are nearly 2,000 years old. The ride was organized to challenge federal management of Western public lands. Attorneys for the federal government told the appeals court that even though the judge knew the lawyer for the conservation group, it had no influence on his decisions during the trial. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby oversaw the 2015 trial. Attorneys for co-defendant Utah county commissioner Phil Lyman accused the judge of bias based on his close friendship with the conservation group. Federal prosecutors defended Shelby, saying judges commonly have connections to law offices where they used to work or have friends and professional colleagues. Shelby recused himself after the trial, handing the case over to another federal judge for sentencing...more

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