Todd Engel Conviction is Vacated
by Shari Dovale
The conviction of Todd Engel has been vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They have remanded Engel back to Nevada for a new trial, or to be released.
This case is very complicated, but it is extremely important and everyone should be aware of the background and further ramifications.
Todd Engel is from Idaho. He was one of thousands of people that watched the apparent atrocities being committed against the people by the government, via social media videos of the Bundy Ranch vs. the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM were attempting to impound the cattle of Cliven Bundy, and the tactics the government actors were using to accomplish this were appearing to go beyond the scope of the government’s authority.
Engel traveled to Bunkerville, Nevada in April 2014 to protest this abuse by the government.
Engel never fired a weapon. Engel never hurt anyone. Yet, Engel was arrested, along with multiple others, for this protest of the government. Todd Engel was named in eleven counts in the indictment.
After the events of the Bunkerville protests, a report was made by another BLM Agent named Larry Wooten that BLM Special Agent Daniel P. Love, the special agent in charge of the impoundment, had committed several abuses of power and violations. The report was considered “whistle-blower” information:
There were 19 defendants in all. There were so many people that Judge Gloria Navarro broke the group into three smaller groups (tiers) to be prosecuted. Engel was a part of the first group to be prosecuted. This was not the group of “leaders” in this protest. The group in which Engel was placed was defined as the “least culpable” of all the defendants.
Todd Engel was assigned a public defender who did not seem to take this case as seriously as he should have. There were multiple issues connected to this defense. Engel wanted to defend himself, as he felt better equipped and more confident in himself rather than the attorney assigned to him. Engel formally asked to represent himself at the beginning of the trial. The Sixth Amendment guarantees us a right to self-representation.
During the trial, Engel proceeded to cross examine a witness for the government. His question involved the current status of Agent Daniel Love, the special agent in charge. Engel was asking about Love, as Love had testified against him during the Grand Jury proceedings.
Q. Was Dan Love the special agent in charge of this operation?
A. Yes, he was. He was an incident commander.
Q. And in any video or audio do—have you seen anywhere where I had any discussions with him?
[GOVERNMENT COUNSEL]: Again, found—well—again, foundation if we’re
talking about which video and audio
THE COURT: He’s answered the question.
BY PRO SE ENGEL:
Q. Isn’t it true that Dan Love’s under criminal investigation for—
[GOVERNMENT COUNSEL]: Objection, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Mr. Engel . . .
[GOVERNMENT COUNSEL]: Move to strike.
THE COURT: The jury will disregard Mr. Engel’s—
PRO SE ENGEL: No further questions.
Engel was apparently attempting to compel the testimony of Agent Love, of which the prosecution did not agree. The court ruled that Engel was improper in his question and Judge Navarro thought Engel had an attitude problem by being “smug” when he sat down after the question was asked.
This was the basis that Judge Navarro ruled to sanction Engel and revoke his “pro se” status, or his right to represent himself.
Engel was subsequently convicted on 2 or the original 11 charges, and Judge Navarro sentenced him to 14 years for his participation in the Bunkerville protest.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard argument in this case on May 29, 2020. They issued the ruling to vacate this case and remand it for a new trial in Nevada on August 6th.
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