In my last post, I wrote about the then-latest twist in the court case against Cliven Bundy and three other defendants: This past February, Federal Prosecutors filed an appeal seeking to overturn U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro’s January 2018 dismissal of the case against the four. In tossing out the charges in January 2017, Navarro pointed to the failure by the government to turn over crucial evidence, calling it “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct” and a violation of due process. Speaking for the government in appealing Navarro’s decision, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth White called the government failure “simple inadvertence.”
But now, we twist again …
Federal prosecutors are urging the historically liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to ignore Bundy's latest argument against a new trial, which came in the form of an anonymous Amicus Curiae brief – meaning it comes from ‘friend-of-the-court’ rather than from an individual or organization. Submitted by Bundy attorney Larry Klayman, who even signed it “Amicus Curiae,” it asserts that granting new trial would subject Cliven Bundy, his sons Ryan and Ammon, and Montana resident Ryan Payne to “double jeopardy” – thus being unconstitutional. For their part, Federal prosecutors asked the appellate court to reject the anonymous document, noting that the court requires identification on amicus briefs.
Klayman’s amicus brief:
- Describes the Department of Justice’s continued pursuit of his client as an “outrage,” and asked the court to void the appeal altogether, arguing that federal prosecutors missed their filing deadlines – and –
- Gets statements from whistleblower Larry Wooten included as part of the appeal record. . To date, the Wooten statements – which I had covered extensively in my book, Cliven Bundy: American Patriot – have not been incorporated into the official court record, but they are important as they:
- Declare that Wooten is a former Bureau of Land Management investigator who wrote a report detailing the alleged unethical actions of federal agents against the Bundys.
- Show that “Mr. Wooten details a pattern and practice of disturbing behavior by federal agents, carefully calculated to inflict maximum damage, and even death, on Mr. Bundy and his family, as well as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada, Mr. Steven Mhyre’s policy of ‘preferred ignorance’ when it came to potential information from the federal land agency that would have been helpful to the Bundy case.”
- And inform the Court that when Wooten pointed out the misbehavior, he was summarily removed from the case and threatened. In fact, saying, Wooten “became aware that his supervisor was already aware of the issues, participated in, or instigated the misconduct himself.”
- And notes to the appeals court: “This is truly an ‘extraordinary circumstance,’ as Judge Navarro and the district court dismissed the superseding indictment against appellees due to gross abuse of process and prosecutorial misconduct without even the benefit of Mr. Wooten’s testimony.”
While the 9th Circuit hasn’t issued its verdict, it did recently throw a monkey wrench into the government’s case. In a new statement released in March, it did give several instructions, including:
- appointing counsel for Ryan C. Bundy, but more important to the Bundy case,
- the Court refused the government’s submission of an oversized 16,634-word brief – well beyond the 14,000-word limit, ordering the government to submit a new document in its place.
In a development not directly related to the appeal, but important to the defendants’ case, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the FBI regarding records about the Bundy investigation. The court said the FBI must search for and produce documents related to the agency’s impersonation of documentary filmmakers during investigations. The ruling came in response to a request from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press asking for more information about the practice. The Associated Press also sued over the FBI’s failure to follow the law.
The Reporters Committee requested access under the Freedom of Information Act to records after learning the FBI impersonated a documentary film crew to investigate Cliven Bundy and his followers. That investigation – code named “Longbow Productions – followed the 2014 armed standoff between Bundy and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The FBI issued what’s known as a “Glomar” response, refusing to confirm or deny the existence of records responsive to the request. The Reporters Committee challenged what they called the FBI’s improper response, and the D.C. District Court agreed.
The most recent legal maneuvering, primarily in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, represents the latest chapter in the saga of Cliven Bundy in his on-going battle against government overreach.
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, ex-felon, and a highly sought after conference speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column. (MikeStickler.com)