Bundy Case a Reminder that
Prosecutorial Abuse Must Never Be Tolerated
It took too long, but our legal system delivered a blow for justice this month when a federal judge in Nevada dismissed charges against rancher Cliven Bundy, his two sons and a fourth man.
The government alleged they led an armed rebellion against the United States, charging them with conspiracy, extortion, using firearms in the commission of crimes, assault, threatening federal officers and other felonies.
But U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the charges, citing “outrageous” misconduct by federal prosecutors that “violated due process rights.”
In an unusual step, Navarro read her order from the bench, taking a half-hour for a point-by-point account of government misconduct. At the heart of the outrage was the prosecution’s willful withholding of critical evidence that could have proven the defendants guiltless. Navarro said the prosecution committed an “intentional abdication of its responsibility.”
To ensure fairness in our justice system, the government is required to disclose exculpatory evidence that may be helpful to the defense. That prosecutors ignored this bedrock principle is abhorrent.
Among the evidence that might have helped the defense were records of government surveillance at the Bundy ranch, information about the presence of government snipers, FBI logs about activity at the ranch in the days before the 2014 standoff, and law enforcement assessments saying the Bundys posed no threat of violence.
Also excluded were internal reports from the Bureau of Land Management. Special Agent Larry Wooten wrote that he “routinely observed…a widespread pattern of bad judgment, lack of discipline, incredible bias, unprofessionalism and misconduct” by federal agents at the standoff. Wooten also said federal agents used excessive force, violated civil rights and committed ethical violations.
Rather than disclose that evidence as required by law, the prosecution taunted the defense for seeking the BLM’s internal affairs report, calling it a “bright shiny object…that did not exist.” Navarro noted that prosecutors had willfully mocked the defense for making a basic request to ensure fairness and justice.
I’ve been so troubled by the prosecutions that in September I contacted Attorney General Jeff Sessions. I both wrote and spoke to Sessions, urging him to review a letter signed by 53 current and former members of the Idaho Legislature. The legislators had expressed serious concerns about the treatment of four Idahoans facing trial in connection with the standoff, including Ammon Bundy, who was among those covered by Judge Navarro’s dismissal.
“There is a strong possibility that a miscarriage of justice is being committed,” I wrote, asking Sessions to ensure that defendants be treated fairly. In December, Sessions opened an inquiry into the prosecutors’ actions. I welcome that investigation.
Congress will also hold the BLM accountable. I am a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has asked the BLM director to address the Bundy case and to how to restore trust in the agency’s ability to effectively enforce the law on federal land. In Idaho, the BLM manages about 22 percent of the land. It’s vital that Idahoans working and recreating on those lands have confidence that they are treated fairly.
We must learn from this horrible example of bad faith and take steps to ensure that such misconduct isn’t repeated. And we must never shy from the principle that civil liberties are absolutely fundamental to our constitutional form of government.
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This AUSA technique of intentionally withholding evidence is quite common.
Reese family Fast and Furious scapegoat.
Standard operating procedure.this aids in asset forfeiture which is theft.
I agree whole heartedly with Bobby Franklin, and Dodi on this issue. Labradoe is a part of the problem if he believes the federal government has that much control over the States, and he is running for Governor folks, is that the best we got?
Although Mr Labrador seems to be awake to what is going on he still seems to think the federal government owns land. It is public lands and in control of the states. Federal agencies have no business concerns in state land. The government did not buy that land. And the Constitution is very clear on how the government can come to own land. First off they have to buy the land from the state, secondly only for the purpose of building post office, court house, military base.
And again, why are all the (fake) news networks painting NAVARRO as their saint to due process?
Harry Reid had her appointed as his chief fed judge of NV, after he skyped her many times on his “domestic terrorist” racket on Gold Butte, to keep the protesters in prison for life.
She new what evidence the DOJ were concealing; as she new what evidence she sealed from public access; and, she new of the perjury stated by some of the Plaintiff’s witnesses.
After the exculpatory evidence & the BLM whistleblower went viral, she knew that no jury in the US could convict, so she was forced to dismiss the indictment, but did not acquit by the jury.
After all that gov’t conspired entrapment & malicious prosecution FAILED, she now solely blames the NV DOJ for it all? And the media falls for her pathetic self-serving lies?
Neil and Shari…Thank you for your Stand. I believe Raul Labrador has chosen to Stand with us.I am sure of it.I welcome him to continue his duty to hold government accountable. We always ask for it. Here is at least some of it.
Mr Labrador deserves high praise for going to bat for his constituents but based on his actions to date,or rather his lack of any interest in this affair, We shouldn’t get our hopes up about Sessions. His only comment so far concerning the Vegas fiasco was praise for the Govt side. Now he’s “Investigating”. haven’t we heard this one before ? Govt officials investigating themselves ? What about 6 months..a year..18 months from now ? “Oh – I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation”. The next step after Mr labrador and those other 53 realize that Sessions words were nothing but patronizing sham ?