Reports of More Brady Violations in Bunkerville Case
by Shari Dovale
A mistrial was declared in the Bunkerville Trial on December 20th with the prosecution, headed by Acting US Attorney Steven Myhre, criticized by Judge Navarro for blatant violations of the law.
The violations go to BRADY v. MARYLAND in which the Supreme Court held that the prosecution has a constitutional duty to disclose evidence that is exculpatory to the defense.
We have heard about numerous violations, yet it does not end there. Ryan Bundy filed another motion to dismiss the case on December 19th based on yet another violation by the prosecution.
The government called witness Mary Jo Rugwell, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) District Manager for Southern Nevada from April 2008 through August 2012, to the stand in November. The cross examination revealed several points:
First by Cliven Bundy’s attorney, Bret Whipple:
Whipple: You had a meeting with Mr. Tom Collins and others?
Whipple: Do you recall what Mr. Collins said about water rights?
Rugwell: He said he believed Mr. Bundy should have access to water rights.
Whipple: Who owns the water rights on Gold Butte:
Rugwell: I do not know.
Whipple : There were range improvements on each and every spring?
Rugwell: I don’t know. I can’t say that there are range improvements on every spring.
Then, Ammon Bundy attorney, Morgan Philpot followed up with:
Philpot: Did you do any research into stock watering rights.
Rugwell: I did not.
Philpot: Are you aware that Mr. Bundy had stock watering rights?
Rugwell: I’d heard that, but it was not relevant. This was a trespass issue. I never looked into any stock watering rights myself.
And there was redirect testimony by Prosecutor Daniel Schiess:
Schiess: You have been asked about stock watering rights. Do you have any information on who owns water rights?
Rugwell: No, I don’t.
Rugwell was very clear and concise in her testimony:
- She knew absolutely nothing about water rights
- She never investigated Bundy’s water rights
- She did not know who owned the water rights.
However, a man from Arizona happen to request some documents from the Nevada State Water Resources Board that proved Rugwell’s testimony to be false.
Included on these documents was correspondence with Mary Jo Rugwell in 2008. These letters show that not only did Rugwell, in her capacity as head of the BLM in the District, not only investigated Cliven Bundy’s water rights on Gold Butte, but attempted to eliminate them, as well.
Rugwell tried to have Bundy’s water rights canceled simply because he was not a current grazing-permit holder, as recognized by the BLM.
Rugwell’s testimony was clearly intended to convince the jury that Bundy had no rights to use the public lands in question, yet his rights predated the BLM. She knew this as is shown by her prior investigation, of which she denied on the witness stand under oath.
The court orders that are continuously referenced by the prosecution do not authorize the destruction of the water infrastructure and improvements.
These letters prove that the BLM recognized the fact that Cliven Bundy owned vested property rights! He had legal right to use these lands, even though the government does not want the public to understand this.
These letters are exculpatory evidence. By not turning them over to the defense, the prosecution AGAIN violated the Brady rule.
This evidence could have easily been used to impeach the testimony of Mary Jo Rugwell and shown her to be untruthful.
What will Judge Gloria Navarro do now? Will she hold Rugwell up on perjury charges? What about Steven Myhre and Daniel Schiess? They knew her testimony was false when they put her on the stand and elicited these answers. Will they be held accountable?
How many more violations will be uncovered before this case is completely finished?
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