Major Update in the Case Against Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy

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December 20, 2017Dec 20, 2017

It is being reported that a federal judge just declared a mistrial in the Nevada case against states' right figure Cliven Bundy, his two sons, and another man accused in 2014 of an armed standoff with federal agents over a land dispute, according to Fox news

Reports claim that Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro, who resides in Las Vegas, recently dismissed a jury seated last month for a trial of Bundy, his sons, and a Montana militia leader. The decision occurred after a string of failed prosecutions in Nevada and Oregon. 

Bundy and the others being prosecuted in this case all oppose federal control over large swaths of land in Western states. 

According to Fox News, jurors acquitted the two Bundy sons of taking over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon for over a month in 2016. For the Nevada case, prosecutors have been accused of failing to turn over all evidence to defense attorneys, including very important pieces of evidence such as records about the conduct of the FBI and Bureau of Land Management agents.

The government, being obligated to disclose all evidence, even that which might be favorable to the defense, failed in this important regard. 

According to USA Today, Navarro told federal prosecutors that they had willfully violated evidence rules and failed to turn over important documents to the defenses. Although Navarro's actions might be an important turn of events, it is not necessarily a surprise. The judge warned last week that she might declare a mistrial. 

"A mistrial is a very bad result for the government," remarked Ian Bartrum, a law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, according to Fox News. 

In April of 2014, Bundy and armed followers challenged the United States Bureau of Land Management after being accused of not paying legal fees required to graze cattle on federal land. The ongoing dispute started in 1993 after Bundy declined to renew his permit for grazing cattle on BLM-administered public lands in Nevada. 

According to Bundy, the federal government doesn't have the constitutional authority to own vast tracts of land, an argument that has been rejected time and again by federal courts. Defenders of the BLM claim that the property clause of the US Constitution grants plenary authority to Congress to manage federal property, including land.

The BLM, adhering to this common interpretation of the property clause, alleges that Bundy continued to graze his cattle on federal land without a required permit. 

In 1998, Bundy was finally prohibited from grazing his cattle on an area of land later called "Bunkerville Allotment." Then, in 2013, federal judge Lloyd D. George ordered Bundy to refrain from trespassing on federally administered land in this specific area. 

In 2014, over 145,000 acres of federal land in Clark County were closed down by the federal government for the purpose of capturing and removing trespass cattle. BLM officials then began to capture livestock and on April 5 an arrest was made. A group of protesters, many of them armed, approached the BLM cattle gather. Sheriff Doug Gillespie negotiated with Bundy and the BLM director to release cattle and de-escalate the situation. 

After the negotiations, Bundy still continued to graze his cattle on federal land without paying his grazing fees.

In 2015, Bundy was arrested at an airport by the FBI and was incarcerated in Multnomah County Jail. He was indicted for 16 felonies. 

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