Rip the veil of secrecy from the Bundy case

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Justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done.

The wheels of justice continue to grind in the federal criminal case against Cliven Bundy, four of his sons and a dozen co-defendants over the April 2014 armed standoff with federal agents trying to confiscate Bundy’s cattle at his Bunkerville ranch. All of the defendants have been jailed for more than a year.

The standoff occurred after armed Bureau of Land Management agents attempted to roundup Bundy’s cattle after he had refused for 20 years to pay grazing fees in the Gold Butte area. The BLM said he owed $1 million in fees and penalties.

Faced with armed protesters the BLM agents eventually released the cattle and left to avoid potential bloodshed.

Much of the evidence in the high-profile case remains cloaked in secrecy due to a blanket court protective order that requires just about everything filed in the case must be filed under seal.

But the press — specifically the Las Vegas daily newspaper, this newspaper and The Associated Press — continue to fight for openness. Just this past week attorney Maggie McLetchie filed a writ with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking that the veil of secrecy be lifted, because it “is anathema to the First Amendment” and longstanding court precedent from the 9th Circuit itself.

McLetchie argues, among other things, that much of the rationale for keeping material secret is merely to protect government agents from legitimate criticism of their conduct. She also says the protective order is  based on “speculation and scaremongering” supported almost entirely by a series of years-old online social media posts.

Since the arrests of most of the defendants back in February 2016, things have not gone swimmingly for the government.

Two of Bundy’s sons, who had been arrested on separate but similar charges of illegally occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge to protest the jailing of father and son ranchers under a terrrorism law for letting fires get out of control and burn a few acres of federal public land, were acquitted of those charges this past fall by a jury, along with their co-defendants.

In April, the first of three scheduled trials for the Bunkerville defendants — charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, extortion, assault and impeding federal officers — ended in a mistrial. The jury found only two of six people on trial guilty of some charges but deadlocked on the others. The jurors agreed to convict on only 10 of the 60 charges brought. None of the conspiracy charges stuck.

In January, the Interior Department’s Inspector General released a 16-page investigative report outlining misconduct and ethical violations by the BLM agent who supervised the Bundy cattle roundup. The report never named the agent but said he abused his powers by obtaining preferential treatment for family and friends at the 2015 Burning Man event on BLM land, misused BLM personnel and equipment, improperly intervened in hiring a BLM agent and attempted to influence an employee’s testimony during the Inspector General’s investigation of him.

Congressional records identify the agent as Dan Love.

McLetchie noted that the misconduct allegations add fuel to the “general public’s concern that the government mishandled the investigation in this case.”

Her writ quotes from a 9th Circuit ruling from 1983 in which The Associated Press sought information about a criminal case. The court stated there “can be little dispute that the press and public have historically had a common law right of access to most pretrial documents. … Moreover, pretrial documents, such as those dealing with the question whether [a defendant] should be incarcerated prior to trial and those containing allegations by [a defendant] of government misconduct, are often important to a full understanding of the way in which ‘the judicial process and the government as a whole are functioning.’”

Seems on point for the Bundy case.

The defendants from the first Bundy trial are to be retried in late June on the same day Cliven Bundy, his sons and others were scheduled for trial. The court has yet to say what the schedule will be for the long-jailed remaining defendants.

The court needs to shine more light on this case so the public can see whether justice is being done. — TM

Comments

  1. B. J. Adams says:

    We are witnessing a serious situation of misjustice and Federal tyranny. Thank you Thomas for speaking out However it is no enough. It is past time for every citizen to make his or her voice heard. Free the Bundys and stop this Federal madness

    • Phil Edwards. says:

      “The standoff occurred after armed Bureau of Land Management agents attempted to roundup Bundy’s cattle after he had refused for 20 years to pay grazing fees in the Gold Butte area. The BLM said he owed $1 million in fees and penalties.
      Faced with armed protesters the BLM agents eventually released the cattle and left to avoid potential bloodshed.”
      This quote from your article is correct. You did not mention the. Actions of the BLM were santioned by a court. Enforcement of court orders seems to be not important

      • Kathleen Brady says:

        And gee, isn’t it interesting to note how many “Court Orders” and Due Process rights have been violated from the government; including judicial orders. This whole trial is a joke, and when the government cannot stand scrutiny when We The People pay for this mess – this isn’t about right or wrong, or “It’s the law” or not.. this is about the BLM (And Special Agent Dan Love) being “butt hurt” because We The People said no. We need to do more of that, because Judges, Prosecutors and Law Enforcement – let’s not forget criminals in DC, seem not to be paying enough attention. That Sheriff in Nye County is something else too. not to mention the Undersheriff that is being paid as one, but hasn’t completed his POST to even be in that position as, if I understood that correctly, is a job requirement for Nevada to be a Law Enforcement Officer.

      • Sandy Potter says:

        They did try to pay grazing fees!! To the County!!! After awhile, they county quit taking the fees from the Bundys.

        • Millie McClave says:

          That’s my understanding as well. Bundy didn’t want to pay them to the BLM because that in itself is unconstitutional. The BLM and Forest Service needs to be abolished!

          • Sherron Hall says:

            and that BLM was NOT taking care of their responsibility on the range. Cliven had to do it himself!!!! If I was not getting my monies worth, I would NOT pay for services either!!!!!
            This whole issue with the BLM vs Bundy is unconscionable!!!
            The Constitution has been violated beyond the PALE!
            Trump has to DEFUND THE BLM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
            Everyone come to Washington, UT June 8th for a fund raiser dinner for the Bundy’s!!!

      • Their is no court order, the Feds meaning england have no jurisdiction. The American Supreme Court, (not to be confused with Federal Foreign United States of England Inc. a private insolvent Bank) says not only is a unlawful order voidable it is just void period. Since when does Englan claim land in Nevada that belong to the American Public People?

      • Janet Thompson says:

        And you did not mention that grazing rights pre-dated the fees/permitting and that the owners paid for that property outright.

        Nor did you mention that Federal judges/courts ruling on Federal agents’ arbitrary regulations granted unconstitutionally by the Federal Government smacks of Caesar ruling on actions of Caesar.

      • Brand Thornton says:

        You need to get informed and quit parroting the propaganda of the main stream press.

      • TRENA SCHUSTER says:

        Bundy’s did everything this country gives us as citizens to defend themselves against the government. No one responded except to rip and tear the bundys to pieces, now they call him a crook. This is very disturbing to me, because the Bundy’s are us! Get a clue AMERICA, YOUR WATCHING THE GOVERNMENT SCREW AN AMERICAN CITIZEN AND YOUR CHEERING. SHAME ON YOU!

      • HOLLY ANN HANSARD says:

        The courts did not sanction the killing of cows, as cows (and at least one prize bull) were being shot and killed by the rustlers hired by the “government” to do their dirty work. In addition, the courts did not sanction the tearing out of the water tanks, and water lines, water sources and water delivery systems long established, and legally held and established for generations and by generations of ranchers in that same area. Just saying…. #FREETHEBUNDYS

    • Nancy C WILLIAMS says:

      I attended the trial of the Bundy’s and five others in Portland Or. to see and hear the truth. Government made up and exaggerated so called evidence. They worked hard to make these men look like dangerous, lawless and anti government. The jury saw through it and acquitted them. The judge in Nevada is worse than Judge Brown. No reason not to give these men bail. The government is working diligently to break them financially, emotionally, morally and spiritually, to no avail.

    • Patricia Badish says:

      Absolutely right about that….injustice and tyranny at the highest level. FREE OUR POLITICAL PRISONERS!

  2. Vanja Jasmine Berg-Welo says:

    Thank You <3

  3. Jeff Carroll says:

    Excellent article. At last the word is finally starting to get out about the crooked judicial system operating this trial.

    Watching from Columbus, Ohio

  4. Maria D'Angeles says:

    Thank you Sir for an honest and unbias article.
    Judiciary corruption is running rampant in our Country today and too many innocent American families are paying a high price for it. What our Government is doing to the Bundys and others that stood for their/our Liberties is criminal.

  5. Francis Maloney says:

    Thank you for this article, there has been a long history of abuse of citizens and their lands (not just the Bundy’s)

  6. The Oregon State police officers & F.B.I. agents directly involved in the cold blooded murder of Lavoy Finicum must and will stand trial for 1st. degree Manslaughter.

    • Karen Jenkins says:

      I totally agree it is high time the tyrannical corrupt govt officials be held accountable in both the Oregon and Neveda unjust cases. The judges are very biased and very corrupt ..not even allowing the US constitution in there courtrooms they have violated every constitutional bill of right and human rights there is along with civil rights.. total disgust here.. they allow abusive torture of the prisoners, they dont allow for speedy trial they have violated all the state and federal statues of law in regard to this.. total tyrannts.. murderers of Lavoy and attempted murder of Ryan and Ammon Bundy and god knows how much more torture they are enduring daily.. total illegal criminals running our doj in Oregon and Neveda.. I pray tell that god has his day in court with them all in heaven.. they think there rulers but there only tyrannts. The OSP the governor, the senator wyden, the sheriff ward and nasty judge grasty all are hedgefunded proven tyrannts. murderers and coercive jerks here in Oregon.. god forgive this unamerican terrorists.. jerks. KJ.. BEND,OREGON

  7. Dotha Patterson says:

    How do we break through the iron curtain of the government and media to get the real truth told? Thank you for this article.

  8. Jim Robertson says:

    Thank you for an excellent article.

  9. Marilyn Smith says:

    Outrageous injustice ruining so many lives! The Bundys, all those who stood with them, Neil Finnicum, Dwight and Steven Hammond, Joe Robertson and all their families! Unjustly tried by biased judges, 2 men sentenced to prison! All have been held in prison without charges or bail set! Neil Finnicum was murdered!
    This should never happen in the USA but it has!
    Our pleas to the White House, our elected Congress, Senators and Representatives have turned their backs on this horrendous situation!
    Enough! These Patriots took a stand for their Constitutional Rights and we’re railroaded by BLM officer Dan Love !!
    Time for the Feds to admit these unjust actions and send these men home!

  10. Beverly Frederick says:

    Thank you for your article! WELL SAID!
    For decades the BLM (and others) have gotten away with their dirty doings as our family lived to see out here in Oregon (on a smaller scale) and so many ranchers, farmers and other Americans. For those reading here look for the truth… it is not what you read and hear about in the mainstream media.

    • virginia fitzwater says:

      what a disgrace to ranchers and farmers trying to make a living as some of the hardest work in the country. the B L M should be held responsbly for what they are doing to our country.

  11. Simone yer says:

    The Bundys are thugs. Just look at what they tried in Oregon, a

  12. Millie McClave says:

    The Feds murdered cows and need to be held accountable and charged with animal abuse. They also need to be charged with murdering LaVoy. This case needs to go back 20 some odd years and all the ranchers that the Feds forced out because they didn’t stand up for whatever reason, and compensate those ranchers for destroying their livelihood and stealing their land. God Bless The Bundy’s and The Hammond’s for standing up and enduring these things so that all of this was brought to the attention of the world. God Bless the LaVoy family as they have paid the ultimate price in all of this. “Rip Off the Veil of Secrecy? is only one thing on a long list of things that need to be done here. It’s the worst case of injustice committed by the Federal Government I have seen in my 61 years on this earth.

  13. Jody Mahan says:

    A good article, but you left out the fact that before giving the cattle back, the BLM destroyed a water storage tank providing water to the cattle grazing and killed several cattle they threw into a hole, much little the SS did the Jews they murdered.

  14. There is a conspiracy by the BLM and its mercenaries to destroy property of the United States when they killed the cattle they were rounding up to pay a so-called debt to the United States. Where is the trial of those agents or mercenaries.

    Also the law of Nevada was broken by the BLM when they failed to follow NRS 328.075.NRS 328.075  Procedure; limits of federal jurisdiction.
    1.  Upon application by an officer of an agency or instrumentality of the United States in accordance with Clause 17 of Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution of the United States, the Legislature, or the Legislative Commission when the Legislature is not in regular session, may by resolution cede concurrent criminal jurisdiction to the United States respecting any land held by the United States for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards or other needful buildings, or for another governmental purpose authorized by the Constitution, subject to the conditions and reservations set forth in this section and NRS 328.085. Jurisdiction other than concurrent criminal jurisdiction may be ceded only by the Legislature when in regular session.
    2.  Federal jurisdiction over land to which this State has not ceded its jurisdiction is limited to carrying out governmental purposes authorized by the Constitution of the United States, and federal jurisdiction over lands held for other purposes is limited to that exercisable by an ordinary proprietor under the laws of this State.

    Thank you for your informative article. I always look forward to your insight.

  15. Thank you for making a concise, logical and unemotional stand on the needs of the public to be informed of matters of public importance. The Bundy Case, not only reflects the importance of a free and open judiciary but that we as citizens have an obligation to make sure that those that represent us in these matters do so in a way that protects our rights and the rights of the accused. Many people forget, or simply don’t realize, that these people, the police, government agents, prosecutors, judges, etc, represent us, as our representatives their actions reflect our fairness as a people. They may wear the badge or robes of the US Government, but accordingly they are our representatives, elected, appointed or otherwise. Therefore, secrecy does nothing to effect confidence in the process, fairness in the handling of the matter in general and our general acceptance of the outcomes. We have gotten this far and lasted this long because we force our officials to work in the light; it is no different here.

  16. Ray Callahan says:

    One thing not mentioned in this excellent article is that the BLM killed some of the Bundy cattle then burried them in an attempt to cover it up. Killing the cows left newborn calves without a mama to nurse on causing some of them to die or suffer. The BLM is clearly the terrorists in this case. I stand with the Bundy’s and against the actions of the government.

  17. Tim Brady says:

    “The federal court system has refused to let the press and public see the discovery for the Nevada trial. Why is this so unjust? What if you, the public could see video of BLM agents discussing and joking about which cowboy or horse they were going to shoot first as a trophy and then arguing about it, “No that one’s mine, no he’s mine, etc.”? What if you were to see footage of David Bundy being kidnapped and beaten by BLM thugs? The BLM has criminally cut out one to three minutes of footage from their own bodycam video. What video we are left with is still enough for a reverse indictment against the BLM for their criminal actions at Bunkerville.”

    843f0b1c0a

  18. Tim Brady says:

    “The federal court system has refused to let the press and public see the discovery for the Nevada trial. Why is this so unjust? What if you, the public could see video of BLM agents discussing and joking about which cowboy or horse they were going to shoot first as a trophy and then arguing about it, “No that one’s mine, no he’s mine, etc.”? What if you were to see footage of David Bundy being kidnapped and beaten by BLM thugs? The BLM has criminally cut out one to three minutes of footage from their own bodycam video. What video we are left with is still enough for a reverse indictment against the BLM for their criminal actions at Bunkerville.”