Are the Feds Retaliating Against Legislator Letter?
By Shari Dovale
The Bunkerville Standoff trial has taken several new turns. Seven defendants are preparing to head back to Judge Gloria Navarro’s courtroom on October 10th. There is only about 19 days remaining before jury selection begins.
Two defendants, Eric Parker and Scott Drexler will have their third trials rolled over into the Tier 1 trial of Cliven, Ammon, and Ryan Bundy, Pete Santilli and Ryan Payne.
The two attorneys for Parker and Drexler, Jesse Marchese and Todd Leventhal, showed themselves to be rock-stars in the last trial, so it is anticipated that they will have a high profile role in the upcoming proceedings. The government is certainly going to have to work for their paycheck with these two on board.
Cliven Bundy, patriarch of the Bundy Family, has just fired his attorney of record, Bret Whipple. There is no word as to whether Bundy has plans to hire another attorney, or possibly even represent himself. Whipple has requested an emergency hearing on the matter due to the fast approaching proceedings.
Ryan Bundy is still trying to organize his team. His court-appointed standby counsel, Angela Dows, attempted to thwart him by filing a motion without his consent. It’s been said that the motion was asking to have him declared incompetent to represent himself. When that did not work out for her, she requested to withdraw from the trial. The hearing on this motion was Thursday and Ryan was not physically present.
Again, CCA (Core Civic) Prisons are continuing with their strip searches of all prisoners before and after each hearing. Ryan has reportedly had so many issues with the guards that he has filed a separate lawsuit against CCA about these strip searches. There is no word as to whether his brother, Ammon, has joined Ryan in this lawsuit
Because of the constant contention between the guards and these prisoners, Bundy did not get on the bus for the trip from Pahrump to Las Vegas for the motion hearing. He was allowed to take part through telephonic means.
Judge Navarro was reluctant to rule, and ended the day by refusing to make any ruling at all. Reports indicate that Navarro told Dows that she only had to be present in the courtroom on standby, if needed. She was not even required to sit at the same table as her client. It seems to me that this could present a prejudice to the jury from the very first day.
In related news, Todd Engel was originally scheduled to be sentenced for his participation in the Bunkerville Protests in July of this year. Engel filed to have his court appointed standby attorney removed from his case for not providing him with good counsel. The court granted that request and appointed David Fisher in his stead.
This seemed like a good move for Engel at the time, however, the two have only spoken together twice since the appointment. Engel attempts to contact his attorney on a daily basis, yet he has not been able to reach him.
The pre-sentencing reports that were done for Engel after his conviction in April recommended 230 months in prison. The report was, admittedly, in error and 3 points were removed from the calculations used for sentencing guidelines. It was corrected to recommend a range nearer to 12 years incarceration.
A majority of the Idaho Legislature recently sent a letter in support of the Idaho defendants, including Engel. Among other things, this letter requested minimum sentencing for Engel. It was delivered to the court prior to the hearing on August 31, 2017.
It was after the court, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, received this letter that the probation department decided to re-run their math calculations for Engel. They have added many more points, seemingly arbitrarily. They are now recommending what is thought to be a full sentence of over 20 years incarceration.
The timing seems very suspect in this case. It would appear that there is government-sanctioned retaliation against this citizen. The elected officials from Idaho standing up for their constituents appears to have gotten ‘under the skin’ of our Federal government.
I hope this is mere coincidence, but currently, it is very hard to determine.
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