Judge Dismisses Case Involving Armed Standoff With Federal Agents

Frederick Owens
January 10, 2018

This is the worst blow yet to prosecutors in a high-profile case that has involved three trials since early 2017 and has captured public attention across the nation.

The question of land rights has been a thorny issue for decades in western U.S. states, where the federal government owns most of the land.

The case stemmed from a tense 2014 standoff near the Bundys' ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada. The conflict has come to symbolize age-old Western tensions over public land management, as well as a nationwide proliferation of self-styled militia groups.

This has been a long, drawn-out affair for the Bundy's and their supporters.

It was yet another defeat for the federal government at the hands of the Bundy family, who have managed to elude prosecution in high-profile trials centered around standoffs with law enforcement over access to public land. In October, a jury in another federal court acquitted two of the Bundys in charges brought after the standoff, a surprising outcome in that case. The cattle had been rounded up under court orders issued over Bundy letting his herd graze for 20 years without paying government fees.

Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the charges against the men "with prejudice", meaning he can't be put on trial again, The Arizona Republic reported. The Bundys were accused of leading an armed uprising against federal authorities in 2014. Bundy and his co-defendants had been held in custody since their arrests in February 2016. These charges included using a firearm to engage in a conspiracy and threatening federal officers.

But defense lawyers for Payne - Renee Valadares, Brenda Weksler and Ryan Norwood - argued in their December 29 briefing seeking to dismiss the case that government "failed to accept responsibility for any of its failure to disclose evidence" and the withholding of evidence was "flagrant prosecutorial misconduct".

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She said the attorneys were in violation of the Brady rule, which requires prosecutors to disclose evidence that could be favorable to a defendant, and told them it wasn't possible to proceed with the case.

In court Monday, Judge Navarro dismissed the case "with prejudice", meaning the defendants can not be retried, according to LA Times.

The three Bundy defendants spoke to reporters amidst dozens of onlookers outside the federal courthouse Monday morning.

Internal affairs reports about misconduct by Bureau of Land Management agents.

No shots were fired before the outnumbered and outgunned federal agents withdrew.

Just a few weeks ago, Navarro ruled a mistrial in the Bundy case.

Whipple said the effect that Monday's dismissal will have on that forthcoming trial "is going to be nothing but positive".

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