(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — San Francisco, California — Cliven Bundy’s occupation of federal land will go unchallenged by the U.S. Government after the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals denied a motion to resurrect the case on Aug. 6, 2020. The legal battle stems from a 2014 incident when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) obtained a court order to collect over $1 million in unpaid grazing royalties that had accrued from all the way back to 1993.
Federal officers rounded up and attempted to remove about 300 head of cattle on federal land near the Bundy family ranch after they failed to pay the fees. The Bundys reacted by reaching for their guns, calling on other militias, and threatening the officers.
With cattle rounded up, the Bundys and their armed supporters confronted the agents. After a negotiation between Bundy and the BLM, facilitated by Sheriff Doug Gillespie, the BLM stopped the roundup of the rest of the herd and the captured cattle were set free in an effort to deescalate the situation.
Bundy’s cattle continued to graze on what is now the Gold Butte National Monument through 2015. Bundy acknowledges he won’t pay the grazing fees and says he doesn’t recognize the federal government’s jurisdiction over public lands in Nevada.
“These feds came in here and overreached on my land and my ranch,” the 74-year-old Bundy said, according to ABC. “We’re willing to go through what we’ve had to [to] defend our rights and the Constitution and freedom. I have no contract with the federal government.”
In 2016, Bundy, his family, and 19 co-defendants found themselves in another armed standoff with federal agents in an anti-government protest when they occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon for 41 days, whereafter they were arrested. Following that event, Bundy was facing life in prison.
Bundy spent two years in jail, some of that by choice. In Nov. 2017, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro released him ahead of her decision in Jan. 2018. According to CNN, he declined to leave, explaining it wouldn’t be right for him to be out of prison when others were still locked up.
In Jan. 2018, Navarro stopped the trial against Bundy for “flagrant” prosecutorial misconduct. In so doing, she also dismissed the criminal indictment, so the case could not be refiled. Navarro’s ruling came because the FBI failed to turnover evidence that “could have helped bolster the defense’s claim that the government had engaged in an overmilitarized impound operation that the Bundy’s claim fueled their fears of being surrounded by snipers,” Judge Jay ByBee wrote in the 2020 opinion.
The only way for a new trial to be brought against Bundy would have been for the Court of Appeals to overturn Navarro’s ruling. The three-judge panel, however, found that Navarro correctly identified violations of “recognized statutory or constitutional right,” and it was within her authority “to deter future illegal conduct” by the government. According to NPR, many believe that President Donald Trump’s pardon of two ranchers involved in the 2016 standoff signaled that Bundy’s prosecution was “no longer a top priority.”
“After two years of illegal incarceration, [my client] had to endure a sham and fraudulent trial where exculpatory evidence was hidden,” Bundy’s attorney and conservative activist Larry Klayman said in a statement.
In 2019, Bundy’s cattle were still grazing on public lands according to a newscast on 8 News NOW, Las Vegas. Bundy told the station he has no plans to change what he’s doing in the future.
OTHER REPORTING ON THE BLM FROM ENVIRONEWS
FILM AND ARTICLE CREDITS
- Shad Engkilterra - Journalist, Author