The Bundy trial is over, and the Federal government is barred from trying them again on the same charges. The prosecution was severely criticized by the Federal judge hearing the case, and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered an investigation into the prosecution. It’s a vindication of the Bundys and an indictment of the Bureau of Land Management.
The Bundy trials, of course, are the result of a group of cattle ranchers protesting actions of the US Bureau of Land Management – the BLM – that the cattlemen thought were unfair. Rancher Cliven Bundy had been withholding payment on his land use fees as part of the protest. The BLM used outrageous tactics to try to force him off the property, including bringing in FBI agents and SWAT teams, and posting snipers where they could shoot at targets on his home ranch. It was a siege, that only ended when the BLM finally was forced to back down. The Bundys were eventually charged with several crimes.
On January 10, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the charges with prejudice and chastened the Federal prosecutors and the Bureau of Land Management. She called the prosecutor’s actions “flagrant” and “reckless” when they withheld evidence from the defense. She said “that the universal sense of justice has been violated” and threw out the charges.
Calling it a“reckless disregard for Constitutional obligations.” the Judge was dismayed by the fact that prosecution did not properly disclose that the government used surveillance cameras and placed snipers outside the ranch.
The ruling has brought more national attention to the Bundy case.
James Brovard, opinion columnist with USA Today, wrote that The Justice Department was caught in another high-profile travesty. He pointed out that the BLM’s chief investigator Larry Wooten accused the BLM of “the most intrusive, oppressive, large scale and militaristic trespass cattle (seizure) possible” against Bundy. Wooten also claimed there was a “widespread pattern of bad judgment, lack of discipline, incredible bias, unprofessionalism and misconduct” by BLM officials.
That’s a terrible indictment of the agency.
It’s high time that the Federal government rewrote the rules for the BLM. It once was a fair overseer of our public lands, and it balanced the needs of all land users, not just those with the right political agenda. That changed and it became like the sheriff of a European King’s Forest. Many people think it is time end their control, to turn the public lands over to the states, to kick out the Feds entirely.