Judge Takes Over Prosecution In Bunkerville Retrial
by Shari Dovale
Judge Gloria Navarro has made new rules for her courtroom that (I would bet) stun even the prosecution.
Last week, Judge Navarro shocked the courtroom with her manipulation of jury selection in the Bunkerville retrial in Las Vegas, Nevada. She refused to allow the defense to have their allotted peremptory challenges and selected the jury for them.
She also ruled against the defense on every single pre-trial motion, including shutting down their defense strategy. Things that were allowed in the previous trial will not be allowed in this trial. The defendants will not be allowed to explain why they went to Bunkerville, nor will they be allowed to say the words “First Amendment”, “Second Amendment” or “Constitution”.
Today, during the questioning of the first witness of [then Under-sheriff] Lombardo, Judge Navarro’s control issues took a very bizarre twist.
During the re-direct testimony of Lombardo, the prosecution, reminding him of being questioned about accidental discharge of weapons, asked the witness what factors he was concerned about during the incident on April 14, 2014.
Lombardo responded that he was concerned for officer safety, the safety of the Nevada Highway patrol and also that of the BLM, if there had been a firefight.
Navarro decided, after this questioning was completed, to finish the prosecution’s examination of the witness, eliciting more testimony for the government’s case. She obviously felt that the prosecution did not phrase their questions the way she preferred and asked the witness, since he was asked about ‘accidental discharge’ was he ever concerned with ‘intentional’ discharge?
Of course, his answer was “Yes”.
But, this was not where Judge Navarro stopped. She continued to take over the questioning of the witness by asking the jury to write their own questions and submit them for her to ask Lombardo.
It is not unheard of to have a jury submit questions in lower courts, but it is highly unusual in Federal court. However, asking questions would be one point to discuss, but Judge Navarro took it even further by controlling those questions and answers herself. She read them herself and then decided what answers would be given to the jury.
The jury had many questions, including some that referenced the previous trial. Navarro did not allow much discussion on those questions, basically telling the jury that “there are different hearings in criminal cases with multiple testimonies” and she wanted to leave it at that.
The jurors also asked about the BLM’s prior operation, was the plan to release the cattle or to ship them out of the area? Navarro would not allow an answer for that, stating that this particular witness could not testify to that. However, the jury might get that answer at a later time.
One juror wanted to know if Lombardo knew if everyone’s firearms were “loaded”, and another wanted the definition of “cease and desist”.
This is highly unusual conduct in a criminal case. The judge has turned this entire case into a circus. The defense has been instructed that they cannot present their defense, and the judge has taken over the prosecution’s case. Everyone might just as well go home.
What can possibly happen tomorrow?
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