Free at last after almost 4 years. After the stand-off with federal agents in an armed showdown over cattle grazing, Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and Ryan Payne a participant in the stand-off, all freed on Monday after being held for almost 700 days without bail. They all walked out of court free men after the Judge dismissed all charges with “prejudice” for misconduct by the prosecutors.
They were all accused of conspiring to impede or injure federal officers when the feds moved in, with hired outside cowboys to seize some of Bundy’s cattle in April 2014 for nonpayment of grazing fees. After a 75-minute hearing in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas on Monday, Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the case with prejudice, which means the defendants cannot be retried on the same charges.
This represented a second stunning defeat for federal prosecutors in their attempts to penalize the Bundy family for their role in two high-profile cases over federal land policies. Early last year prosecutors failed to convict Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five of their co-defendants in a separate armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.
This case received national attention because it highlighted the long-running tensions between Western ranchers and the federal government. “It’s not only a great victory for the Bundy family, but it begs a congressional inquiry into the behavior of the BLM and whether or not we should be treating American citizens as terrorists,” said Mr. Philpot, the Bundy attorney.
When the decision was announced loud cheers could be heard from the many supporters who were in attendance and those who had to wait outside the courtroom. Reaction to the judge’s decision case resounded across the West with supporters of the Bundy’s celebrated in the legal victory that many said shows that Bureau of Land Management’s managers and the Environmental Protection Administration have harassed and persecuted ranchers and others using BLM land for commercial purposes and this was a good example of that harassment.
Ranchers throughout the west have faced increasing fees for land use and general harassment by Federal Agencies, environmental groups and preservationists who say farming, mining and even human access harm the environment. The groups said the decision hurts the cause and efforts to protect natural resources.
Ask anyone who tries to deal with the BLM about the delays and general indifference shown by that agency is unconscionable. Getting right-a-way for any project is at least a ten year venture any many times longer. The agency collects fees but does nothing to improve the land.
What happen at the Bundy ranch could have been a real disaster but luckily cooler heads prevailed, yet if the land use is not reformed there may be a real tragedy ahead. Let’s hope the new Sectary of the Department of Interior will look at restructuring the BLM so it serves both the people and the country’s commercial interests instead of only the environmental groups who want the land locked away. For the misconduct, the Justice Department should investigate and charge if there was any crimes committed by federal employees.