Federal Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in the case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who is accused of leading a standoff against the government in 2014. The trial includes his sons Ryan and Ammon and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne.

Navarro “tentatively set a new trial date for February” and said that the prosecutors “willfully withheld critical and ‘potentially exculpatory” evidence from the defense.”

Back in 2014, Bundy and his friends decided to revolt against the Bureau of Land Management after it issued him a court order to round up his cattle since he has refused “to pay fees required to graze his herds on federal property” for the last two decades. People responded to support Bundy and the government eventually backed off. No one fired a shot in the four day standoff..

In this trial, the four men “were accused of enlisting armed gunmen to force government agents to abandon the effort.” They faced a maximum 20 year prison sentence.

From Reuters:

Navarro had warned prosecutors last week that she might declare a mistrial after listing documents previously undisclosed by prosecutors that could be used to impeach government witnesses or bolster defendants’ arguments that they felt surrounded by government snipers prior to the standoff.

In a stinging rebuke on Wednesday, Navarro said prosecutors knew or should have known of the existence of memos from FBI agents that may have been helpful to the defense.

Those memos and other documents, some 3,300 pages in all, were not turned over until well after an Oct. 1 deadline, and then only after repeated efforts by Bundy’s defense counsel, Navarro said.

It took her almost an hour to explain her choice and “stopped short of dismissing charges against the four men.” A new hearing will occur on January 8 when she will hear defense arguments, but we do not know if “the case will be retried because Navarro did not rule whether the mistrial was with or without prejudice.”

The Bundy family have maintained that they “felt endangered by government ‘snipers’ positioned on the hill above their ranch.”

Previous attempts to charge these men and others have not worked. From AZ Central:

But making a solid case against Bundy and his supporters has so far eluded prosecutors. Two federal juries in Las Vegas have rejected conspiracy claims against six defendants in earlier trials.

A jury in April deadlocked on charges against four of the first six defendants. It convicted Gregory Burleson of Arizona and Todd Engel of Idaho on weapons and obstruction charges but dismissed all of the conspiracy charges.

The government launched its retrial of the four defendants in July. But a second federal jury did not return any guilty verdicts after four days of deliberation.

Richard Lovelien of Oklahoma and Steven Stewart of Idaho were acquitted on all counts and walked out of court in August free after spending more than a year in prison.

Eric Parker and O. Scott Drexler were acquitted on most charges, but jurors deadlocked on a few weapons charges. Rather than face a third trial, both pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a court order.


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