A federal judge in Las Vegas on Wednesday declared a mistrial in the case against rancher Cliven Bundy, his two sons, and a fourth man who took part in the 2014 confrontation with the federal government.
U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro cited the government’s failure to turn over documents that could help the defendants on over a dozen conspiracy and assault charges brought against them as cause to bring the trial to a halt. “The court does regrettably believe a mistrial in this case is the most suitable and only remedy,” said Navarro, as reported by The Oregonian.
Navarro had warned more than a week ago that government missteps could result in a mistrial, and sent jurors home until evidence issues were hammered out with prosecutors. Of concern to the judge were 493 pages of internal documents relating to controversial dismissed Bureau of Land Management agent Dan Love, who was key to the case; information about a surveillance camera the FBI had pointed at the ranch; details of deployed BLM snipers during the stand-off; maps, and other reports that were withheld.
The trial has its roots going back to 1993 when BLM sought to limit the senior Bundy’s access to public land near Bunkerville, Nevada for his cattle citing the need to protect the endangered desert tortoise, to which he responded by refusing to renew his grazing permit. This sparked an ongoing dispute between the rancher and the federal government over access and grazing fees that came to a head in April 2014 when the agency moved to roundup and impound Bundy’s cattle on BLM land, triggering a modern-day range war that saw protestors, some armed, come to Bundy’s aid from across the country.
In the end, the agents backed down but…