DENIES DEFENSE WITNESSES AN OPPORTUNITY TO TESTIFY
by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 5, 2017) — U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro is presiding over the trial of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and five other defendants stemming from a confrontation with agents from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Exactly three years ago, federal agents began seizing and impounding Bundy’s cattle resulting from a dispute which began in 1993 over grazing fees. Supporters from all across the country traveled to the ranch, many of whom carried personal firearms.
Bundy’s son Dave was arrested as a result of the standoff and held briefly, then released.
A full-fledged confrontation was avoided when BLM agents retreated following a number of initial clashes with protesters.
Bundy and 18 others were eventually charged by the federal government on 16 counts, including “conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States” and obstruction of justice. Bundy was not arrested directly after the standoff at his ranch on April 12, 2014, but rather, was taken into custody after debarking from a flight to Portland, OR after two of his sons were involved in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupation and arrested.
In February of last year, Cliven Bundy; his sons Ammon and Ryan; radio host Pete Santilli, who provided live coverage of the Bundy Ranch confrontation as it unfolded; and Ryan Payne of Montana were indicted by a federal grand jury on the aforementioned 16 charges.
Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had recommended Navarro to Obama for the federal judgeship. A former chief deputy district attorney in Clark County, NV, Navarro was confirmed by the Senate in May 2010, an announcement Reid posted on his Senate website at the time.
Prior to her confirmation hearings, Reid had told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Navarro “is devoted to justice and the rule of law.”
However, the Las Vegas Sun reported of her candidacy:
Reid’s glowing testimony came despite the fact that Navarro is one of the lowest rated of the federal judicial nominations made by Obama since March. A substantial majority of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, meaning 10 to 13 of its 15 members, rated her as qualified whereas a minority determined her to be not qualified. Only one other nominee among the 45 made by Obama since he took office was determined to be not qualified by at least some members of the committee.
Last year, Bundy’s lead defense attorney sued Navarro for allegedly taking part in a “conspiracy,” along with former Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Barack Hussein Obama aimed at “stealing his property,” maintaining Bundy in solitary confinement, violating his constitutional rights, and denying him an impartial trial.
On May 11, 2016, Fox News reported that “Federal prosecutor Steven Myhre dismissed as ‘outrageous, irrelevant and offensive’ the idea that there was “some grand conspiracy by political leaders to take over the land.”
On April 7, 2016, Breitbart reported that “Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is reportedly hoping the federal government—specifically President Barack Obama’s administration—will grab a stretch of land in Southern Nevada near the infamous Bundy Ranch, now that many in the Bundy group are in federal custody,” citing a “Nevada political observer.”
On December 28, 2016, Obama declared a large area in southeastern Nevada a national monument, said to include “the site of the infamous Bundy Ranch standoff as well as land very close to the Bundy Ranch itself.”
The Bundys’ response to the designation, posted on their blog, reads:
We, the Bundy Family, would like to say to President Obama that we are saddened, but not surprised, by the your decision to make our ranch and home a national monument. If any of this were really about protecting the land, you would come here, work with the local people who love this land, those who have a vested interest in this land, and take the time to learn what this land really needs. This is about control, pure and simple. You don’t love this land, you have never visited here, but you love being in control of this land. The problems we have had with federal land management have never been about cows, tortoises, or fees. It has always been about the constitutional limits on the federal government’s authority. While you enjoy a vacation in Hawaii we are here caring for this land and resisting federal overreach. Shame on you for undoing with your pen the good work we have done with our sweat for generations. We call on Attorney General Adam Laxalt to fight this to the fullest extent of the law!
There has been speculation that Trump might take the step of rescinding national-monument designations, but no announcement has been made to date.
Bundy had wanted Atty. Larry Klayman, founder of FreedomWatch, to represent him, but Navarro denied his request. Klayman wrote shortly thereafter that Navarro’s reasons for denying his application to practice pro hac vice on Bundy’s behalf were invalid.
Just days ago, the Las Vegas Sun reported that Bundy’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the issue was denied by a three-judge panel in a 2-1 vote. The panel’s opinion states that the judges “do not understand” one of Klayman’s requests and that “there are no merits” to Bundy’s request for a writ of mandamus.
Despite his having been prohibited from representing Bundy, Klayman publicized a legal defense fund on his behalf.
On Monday, the AP reported that Navarro disallowed the majority of defense witnesses from testifying after reportedly allowing the prosecution to call “more than three dozen” of its own witnesses. An attorney for one of the defendants said that the ruling has “crippled the defense and ensured the jury won’t hear from most of the witnesses that defendants’ attorneys intended to call.”
On Wednesday evening, constitutional educator, attorney and author KrisAnne Hall called upon the congressional Freedom Caucus to impeach Navarro.
Having begun in February, the Bundy trial is now expected to conclude in the near future, perhaps by the end of the week, according to media reports.
A video account of some of the proceedings dated March 23 is here.
On March 25, NewsTarget reported that “The Bundy Ranch trials are underway, having begun in February of this year. There have already been reports that federal court Judge Gloria Navarro, who is presiding over the case, has dealt several blows to the defense teams throughout the trial. She has allegedly given the prosecution favorable treatment regarding time expansion, granting them over five weeks to present their case. She has, however, refused to do the same for the defense, allowing the six defendants only one week to present their case.”
That allegation was confirmed on Monday.