Due Process

A few days ago, Nevada District Court Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed all charges against rancher Cliven Bundy “with prejudice,” meaning that Bundy and the two other defendants cannot be tried again on those charges, because she stated that prosecutorial misconduct made a fair trial impossible.

Bundy was accused of leading an armed rebellion against federal agents to block a roundup of his cattle from public lands. Bundy has now grazed his cattle on federal lands for almost twenty years without paying federal grazing fees, which was the reason BLM agents attempted to round up his cattle in lieu of payment, but were stopped when scores of armed men appeared, outnumbering the BLM agents.

Navarro cited “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct,” calling the prosecutor’s actions “outrageous” in withholding evidence, which resulted in violating “due process rights” of the defendants. All of that is certainly understandable, and we should all be afforded a fair trial.

But what I don’t get is how a man can fail to pay for something for twenty years, then use armed force to run off federal agents, and get away with it. Why was the BLM so lax in dealing with Bundy? Why didn’t they file a lien on his property or the equivalent?

Obviously, since I only have a background in environmental regulatory law, and not criminal justice, I’m clearly missing something. Why isn’t the judge filing or asking for charges of prosecutorial misconduct to be filed? And what about the twenty years of unpaid grazing fees?

Bundy isn’t a western federal lands’ rights hero. He’s a thief, pure and simple, who got armed thugs to bail him out, and then used federal legal incompetence to escape.

There are two sets of criminals here: Bundy and the criminal incompetence of the BLM and the prosecutors, and it appears that both sets are getting off free… and taxpayers will foot the bills.

4 thoughts on “Due Process”

  1. Alison Hamway says:

    I can’t believe they got off here in Oregon too, after the Bundy boys led the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife refuge (and vandalized much of the area). The evidence was all posted on line by the perpetrators themselves. No prosecutorial misconduct alleged here — but the jury apparently thought there was insufficient evidence of planning for a conspiracy.

  2. Hannibal says:

    One word: “trumpism”

  3. Ed G. says:

    Very disturbing. The “Grazing and Distribution” section of the BLM web site states, “In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM was allocated $79 million for its rangeland management program. Of that figure, the agency spent $36.2 million, or 46 percent, on livestock grazing administration.” It seems funds were available to address such issues, so I have to point the finger on BLM late and inadequate leadership and management in working the problem for 20 plus years. I can only join in on shaking my head at the final legal resolution. But then there are too many examples of this of late in federal government.

  4. Rural_Defender says:

    prosecutorial misconduct is not a criminal charge. it’s an allegation of a violation of the rules of ethics for prosecutors. prosecutors are rarely, if ever made to pay for their ethical lapses. it’s up to the state bar of the state in which the prosecutor’s are licensed to bring ethical complaints. that may not be the state in which the ethical violation occurred in. for example, in the case of federal prosecutors, who only need to be licensed in ‘A’ state of the U.S. or the D.C., and may be wholly different from the state in which the defense attorney and/or the judge are licensed in.
    as a rule prosecutors are rarely if ever sanctioned by the bar of their state, even for very egregious non-criminal misconduct. the doctrine allowing judges to dismiss charges flows in part from that being the only sanction a judge can impose. as an aside, most cases of wrongful convictions being overturned flow from prosecutorial misconduct that only is discovered years or decades later.

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