Bundy Trial Update- Pretrial Hearings
After delaying the USA v Bundy trial for another week, there has been another series of pretrial motions. The first hearing on November 8th was about a Motion to Dismiss presented by Cliven Bundy’s attorney, Bret Whipple. He filed this motion because the prosecution has been withholding evidence.
Prosecutor Steven Myhre said “This is a tactic to delay the progress of this case…We are ready to try this case.”
However, Information from the November 3rd hearing has led to the discovery of pictures of an FBI computer screen at the Command Operations Center located near the Bundy Ranch during the Bunkerville Standoff. The computer screen showed as many as four different feeds (locations) that the cameras were live streaming. Not only were cameras pointed at the Bundy residence, but they also were watching the “1st Amendment Area” and the “Staging Area” where protestors gathered. The time span involved was proven to be much longer than the one day period the prosecution claimed; at least four days and possibly much more.
Pictures of the computer screen also showed four locations the camera live streams were sent out to; including a SWAT team, the Tactical Operation Center, an FBI office in Las Vegas and the Emergency Operations Center. It also brings up the possibility that these four locations could have recorded the live streams, or personnel may have been taking notes, and that any such recordings or notes need to be made available to the defense. The picture indicated that the FBI could have played an active role leading up to the standoff, and that armed tactical teams might have taken up positions around the Bundy Ranch.
Ryan Payne’s lawyer, Brenda Weksler, said this evidence could refute charges in the criminal indictment that defendants made false claims in order to incite militia members to come to the Bundy Ranch. The records could be used to challenge some or all of the charges against the defendants. “We have nothing on the FBI in this case,” Weksler said. “This was disclosed yesterday.”
Cliven Bundy’s nephew, Anderson Scott Sessions, testified that he saw at least three cameras operating on different days and in different locations around the Bundy Ranch. He said. “Everyone was scared. I was definitely scared.”
Judge Navarro has limited this search for records to the camera that was live streaming the Bundy home. On November 8th, she again ordered the prosecution to produce records involving the surveillance camera and armed agents positioned around the Bundy home during the standoff. She demanded they provide records, logs, notes and names of possible witnesses. The time frame was expanded to March 1st through April 14th, 2014. The deadline for the prosecution to produce this evidence was changed to November 12th at 12 noon.
Navarro denied the motion by Bundy’s attorney to dismiss the case for prosecutorial misconduct stemming from violations of discovery rules.
Ryan Payne’s Attorney, Ryan Norwood, raised evidentiary concerns in a separate motion to dismiss the case. Norwood said the court sealed documents in the case, preventing him from discussing them in open court, but information has been raised that suggests Daniel Love, the former BLM Agent in Charge at the Bundy Ranch, violated policies, tampered with evidence, intimidated employees into deleting emails about his conduct and used his position to gain benefits in unrelated cases. Navarro told prosecutors to respond to Payne’s motion by Friday, November 10th.
This type of quashing of evidence has been a consistent practice in the Bundy trials from the beginning. As the ground rules were being drawn up for this trial months ago, Pete Santilli’s attorney, Chris Rasmusson wrote; “The prosecution filed a motion to keep the jury from hearing the majority of the facts in this case. They have asked Judge Gloria Navarro to keep the defendants from any chance of a defense argument, not allow them to discuss any events leading up to the protest in April 2014, or allow anyone to show the heavily-armed SWAT teams in a ‘negative’ light, and more. In the prior trials, Judge Navarro was quite willing to grant every request of the prosecution, and deny all motions from the defense.”
Attorney Chris Rasmusson was talking about the 26 page motion that prosecutor Steven Myhre filed on Sept. 24, 2017, with restrictions placed solely on the defense’s evidence and arguments, and describing what the court will not be allow to hear. Two serious limitations on what the defense cannot use as evidence in regards to the government employees at the compound are:
(1) “Allegations of workplace misconduct by the SAC of the impoundment, or regarding those who worked for, or with, him” and (2) “Allegations that officers connected with the impoundment acted unethically or improperly by the way they were dressed or equipped during the impoundment, or that they improperly shredded documents during or after impoundment operations.” If these limitations are upheld through the trial, the jury may never hear about the ‘shredding incident’ or the other sealed evidence that no-one outside the closed hearing will see or hear.
The SAC (Special Agent in Charge) was Daniel Love. “Those who worked for, or with, him” would include the four witnesses of the previous evidentiary hearing. These are the same four that had such severe memory lapses, contradictory testimony and self-impeachment problems; Zachary Oper, Mary Hinson, Pamela Smith and Randy Lavasseur.
Judge Navarro stated in Thursdays hearing in regard to the missing evidence that there was not ‘bad faith’ by the government, nor was there any ‘prosecutorial misconduct’. Others in the courtroom are in disagreement.
Cliven Bundy’s attorney, Larry Klayman, who is not allowed by Judge Navarro to represent Cliven in this case, has been in the gallery of the courtroom through the last few weeks of hearings. On November 9th, Kiayman’s Washington D.C. office filed legal documents demanding further investigations on how this case has been handled. Within these documents Klayman states: “It is a great miscarriage of justice to allow the bad faith and gross prosecutorial misconduct set forth in the Complaint for Emergency Writ of Mandamus and Injunctive Relief to continue and not conduct a thorough, expedited investigation to ensure that Mr. Bundy and his co-defendants receive a fair trial pursuant to their rights under the Constitution of the United States.” The complaint can be found at www.larryklayman.com in its entirety.
The Complaint is against Jeff B. Sessions, US Attorney General; Robin C. Ashton, Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility, Department of Justice; Michael E. Horowitz, Inspector General of the Department of Justice; and Christopher A. Wray, Director of the FBI. Larry Klayman has been working diligently for many months to persuade those listed above to investigate the judicial irregularities in the Bundy Case.
On November 9th there was another Detention Hearing for Cliven and his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and their co-defendant, Ryan Payne. It was thought to be their last chance to be released from custody for the duration of the trial.
The hearing started with the attorney for Jason Woods requesting that all defendants be joined in the motion for release from detention. Judge Navarro denied his request stating that it was not proper procedure. The second tier of “mid-level” defendants will be the third and final group to be tried. The second-tier defendants are Bundy sons Dave and Mel, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Brian Cavalier, Jason Woods and Micah McGuire.
Because of the federal gun charges against them, all defendants in this trial must be able to rebut the presumption that they are a ‘flight risk’ and a ‘danger to the community’ before being released. Even though some of the defendants did not carry a firearm during the protest, the conspiracy charges against them make all of these men responsible for the weapons of others who did.
Judge Navarro ruled Thursday, November 9th that Cliven Bundy, Ryan Bundy and Ryan Payne are still a ‘danger to the community’ and therefore denied release. Judge Navarro continued Ammon Bundy’s Detention Hearing until Monday, November 13 to give the prosecution more time to make an argument against his release.
The November 13th hearing was closed to the public for most of the day. When the public was allowed back into the courtroom, the judge continued Ammon’s detention hearing and ruled that Ammon Bundy was also a danger to the community and a flight risk. To the publics surprise, the judge then announced that Ryan Bundy would be released to a half-way house in about an hour and could be transported by his wife Angie Bundy. Ryan was released at about 6 pm to be greeted by about 30 supporters. After many hugs, a short speech, and many pictures, Ryan and Angie departed.
Part of the Bundy’s legal team, Morgan Philpot and Rick Keorber also emerged from the courthouse. They explained what had happened in the part of the day’s closed hearing that resulted in Ryan Bundy’s release. The prosecution had been caught using false information during Ryan Bundy’s detention hearing on the 9th. The prosecution had claimed Ryan Bundy had been belligerent and had to be stunned with a Taser when arrested for demonstrating at a livestock auction yard. Ryan Bundy had peacefully protested at the auction because the owners had made an agreement with the BLM to auction the Bundy cattle. The prosecution had also lied about Ryan Bundy using foul language at the detention facility.
After the closed hearing, Judge Navarro reversed her previous decision on some missing evidence. In regard to the missing black Mac laptop, she decided that “it may have been intentionally hidden”. She may therefore, give jury instructions that puts a “question” on the governments case. SAC Daniel Love will not be called as a government witness.
Since the last order for the government to produce evidence, it has been discovered that there were FBI snipers (a rapid response team) present at the Bundy Ranch before the standoff began. That refutes the governments charges that the Bundy’s made false statements to bring militia members to the ranch. It also changes the role of the aggressor from the Bundy’s to the government.
Pete Santilli and his attorney, Chris Rasmusson, have dropped out of the present trial. Almost 2 years after being incarcerated, and the day after the tragic Las Vegas massacre of October 1st, Pete Santilli took a plea agreement deal that allowed him to walk out of detention for time served. He chose not to face a jury in a traumatized city with the risk of decades in prison.
Eric Parker and Scott Drexler, holdovers from the previous trials, also took plea agreements on a misdemeanor charge and were able to go home with time served. They too would have been part of the present trial with decades of prison if an unsympathetic jury was seated.
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