Judge dismisses Bundy case: Charges dropped, Cliven, Ammon, Ryan go home
Judge Gloria Navarro of the Nevada District Court dismissed “with prejudice” the case against Cliven Bundy and his sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and Ryan Payne. This means federal prosecutors will not have the option to reopen or retry the case. The Bundy men are free. As of about 1 p.m. today, Cliven was already on his way to the ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada.
Ryan Payne will now travel to Oregon to await trial for charges related to the Malheur Refuge protest that he, the Bundys and others staged in 2016. While all other participants in that takeover were found innocent, Payne pled guilty and continues to await trial.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, late last month, said he was calling for an investigation into the government’s handling of the case – including multiple instances of mishandling of evidence.
The investigation will probably be conducted by investigative attorneys, said Roger Roots who serves on Cliven Bundy’s legal team. While there is no way of knowing how long the investigation will last, the investigators will be looking at then-acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre’s brady violations. Myhre, who was appointed acting U.S. attorney by President Trump about a year ago, was recently replaced because his one-year appointment had ended.
Ryan Bundy spoke with Tri-State Livestock news after Navarro’s announcement today.
“We’re not surprised by the judge’s decision. It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “We knew we were not guilty of these crimes, we knew that the truth would be revealed.”
Judge Navarro, who from the beginning prevented the defense from talking about the First Amendment or the Second Amendment or the BLM’s snipers, and many other topics, showed bias against the Bundy family early on, Ryan Bundy said.
“It’s terrible, judges are supposed to be neutral but she was decidedly on the side of the government. I believe it is that way in most cases. The government has a 98 or 99 percent conviction rate. Many judges are past prosecutors and they have the mindset that everyone is guilty.”
Bundy said he doesn’t think that the judge necessarily believes in the innocence of the Bundy family but that “the truth was out so plainly that she could not deny it. She couldn’t rule any other way without being in gross misconduct. She had to protect herself.”
It was discovered in December that the prosecution violated the “Brady rule” at least seven times, by willfully withholding evidence that it should have shared with the defense.
Bryan Hyde, a reporter with “Who’s Next” news reported that the judge said the prosecution, led by Steven Myhre acted in ways that were “especially egregious,” “grossly shocking,” and she also talked about “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct,” “reckless disregard,” and more. She said the only fair recourse was not to have another trial but to dismiss it because it involved a serious constitutional violation and there was a need to preserve judicial integrity and prevent future misconduct on the part of the government.
The judge was referring not only to the fact that evidence was withheld, but the blatantly arrogant way with which it was withheld, said Hyde.
Ryan Bundy said that he had been out of prison, albeit with an ankle bracelet to track his movement, since mid-November but that his father Cliven had not been released until just today. “He already ditched me,” Ryan said of Cliven.”He’s ready to get home.”
Ryan, who ranches with his father (some of the children, including Ammon, no longer live or work on the ranch), does not fear the federal government or any future attempts to collect money.
“We own the rights. That’s what we’ve been saying. Grazing fees are a fabrication of the federal government. They don’t own the land. We aren’t going to make a contract with the federal government. Why would we pay a grazing fee?” he asked.
“Why do any ranchers pay grazing fees? Why don’t they stand stand upon the rights that they have and cancel the contracts with the federal government? The land belongs to each state and her people. Read the constitution,” he said.
Ryan Bundy said he and his family do not own the dirt but they own the grass. “We don’t claim ownership to the land, we claim ownership the feed that grows upon it, and of course the water. Feed without water is no good and water without feed is no good.”
He said they also own the improvements they have financed on the BLM land.
Ryan and Cliven Bundy intend to make a visit to the local sheriff’s office soon, maybe tomorrow (Jan. 9). “We’d like to talk to him about him doing his job,” Bundy said.
Ryan looks forward to enjoying his family’s company later today.
Charges against the Bundy men ranged from conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede and injure a federal officer to use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and interstate travel in aid of extortion.
The indictments are not directly related to money the Bundy family owes the federal government for grazing Bureau of Land Management land. The charges stemmed from a “standoff” in April of 2014 when the BLM attempted to gather Cliven Bundy’s cattle and the Bundy family along with hundreds of supporters from around the country protested the government’s removal of family’s cattle from the ranch.
The BLM said they were gathering the cattle to sell them, to settle a debt they said the Bundys owed for several years of unpaid grazing “fees” on BLM land. The BLM turned the cattle loose and left the Bundy ranch after the actions escalated to an armed “standoff” between federal agents and Bundy supporters, many of which were armed on both sides.