Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Federal prosecutors seek court win in Bundy standoff after misfires in Nevada, Oregon

The Bundy family’s fight against the federal government has created headaches for at least one agency, the Justice Department, which returned to court Monday badly in need of a guilty verdict after a series of misfires in its pursuit of the Nevada ranching family. Jury selection began in the retrial of four Bundy supporters—Eric Parker, O. Scott Drexler, Richard Lovelien and Steven Stewart—after jurors deadlocked in April on charges stemming from the 2014 standoff with the Bureau of Land Management at the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville. The hung jury came as the second setback for prosecutors. Six months earlier, an Oregon jury found seven defendants, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy, not guilty of charges stemming from the January 2016 occupation of a vacant building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Las Vegas jury found two defendants guilty on lesser charges but deadlocked on the more serious conspiracy counts.Bret Whipple, attorney for Cliven Bundy, said the prosecution’s determination to retry the defendants despite the mistrial comes as evidence that the case is being driven by political considerations rather than the strength of the case. The government may have an easier time proving their case the second time. In a Sunday ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro said the defense cannot make references to “Cliven Bundy’s grazing, water, or legacy rights on the public lands,” or infringements on their clients’ First and Second Amendment rights. The judge, who characterized such arguments as irrelevant, also prohibited defense attorneys from discussing jury nullification. “Defendants’ state of mind regarding their beliefs or why they were present in Bunkerville, Nevada, on April 12, 2014, is not relevant to the charged offenses or the allowed mere presence defense,” said Ms. Navarro in her decision...more

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