Trial-of-the-Century Gets a Jury in Las Vegas
by Shari Dovale
The Trial-of-the-Century is fully underway in Las Vegas, Nevada. Four men face charges related to the Bunkerville Standoff in April 2014.
71-year-old Cliven Bundy, two of his sons, Ryan and Ammon, as well as Montana resident Ryan Payne are accused of being the leaders behind the standoff. This event saw the Bureau of Land Management, under discredited Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Dan Love, stop the court-ordered cattle rustling that had begun near the southern Nevada town.
Over four days this week, prosecutors and defense whittled a large group of prospective jurors down to 12 with 4 alternates. A diverse group, they are prepared to serve for an estimated four months.
Jurors will return Tuesday morning, November 7th, for opening arguments. Meanwhile, the attorneys continue with a full schedule in preparation for the opening on Tuesday.
An evidentiary hearing will conclude Friday morning on a motion by Ryan Payne to dismiss the entire case based on an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report and it’s attachments.
Judge Navarro chose to delay the very important hearing in favor of jury selection, which gives every impression that she has already made up her mind to rule against the motion to dismiss. The best the defendants can hope for, under those circumstances, is a directed jury instruction.
The evidentiary hearing is based on the apparent destruction of important, and exculpatory, documents in the ‘Operation Gold Butte’ event, as named by the BLM. It is important to remember that Dan Love testified in this hearing, via SKYPE, from Salt Lake City.
When attorneys Bret Whipple (who represents Cliven Bundy) and Dan Hill (who represents Ammon Bundy) questioned Love regarding Love’s phone calls with the U.S. Attorneys Office during the standoff, prosecutor Steven Myhre sternly objected. Whipple asked if (then-U. S. Attorney) Daniel Bogden had instructed Love to release the cattle. Myhre objected, claiming the U.S. Attorney had no authority to issue such an instruction. However, Daniel Love stated that the order to surrender and release the cows was given immediately after he spoke to Bogden.
This revelation raises the question of whether the Justice Department deliberately entrapped the Bundys, and made a showing of releasing the cattle solely to set up the Bundys to be prosecuted. Was Love directed by the highest-ranking federal prosecutor in Nevada to release the cattle, so that the Justice Department could stage this elaborate criminal prosecution?
Further testimony by Kent Klemen further implicated the US Attorney’s office in the what appears to be quite the cover up. Kleman was in charge of the investigation of the shredded documents.
During Kleman‘s testimony, it was revealed that Acting US Attorney, Steven Myhre, not only asked Kleman to investigate this issue, but set the parameters and directed the course of the investigation. This puts a large “Conflict of Interest” stamp on Myhre’s forehead.
Myhre made repeated attempts to shut down this testimony, calling it ‘privileged’, yet it continued with more details.
It would seem that when the original motion was filed by the defense in October 2016, Myhre called Kleman at that time to determine what happened. Kleman then spoke with Myhre at least weekly for the next year, discussing all aspects of the investigation.
During the investigation, Kleman admitted that he did NOT talk to all the principals involved in the event. This investigator testified that he was told of a “hurried shredding event” yet never bothered to ask WHY they were doing the shredding, though he was told that Command Staff were assisting. In light of this knowledge, it is amazing that Kleman never bothered to ask WHO directed them to shred the documents.
The trial is estimated to last four months, with a few days off for pre-scheduled events, including holidays. The gallery is expected to be full with supporters traveling from around the country to witness the testimony, as well as several media outlets expected on key days.
A final trial for the remaining defendants is not expected to begin until 30 days after a verdict is reached in this trial.
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