As a citizen of this great country, I have just experienced one of the saddest days in my life.
Let me explain…
I sat in the courtroom of day 15 of the Cliven Bundy trial (at this point that is six calendar weeks in the courtroom). Over the previous weeks, I’ve made the journey from my Northern Nevada home, staying weeks at a time in Las Vegas, to watch the wheels of justice turn … slowly … painfully slowly.
It was clear from the beginning motions and evidential testimony of Special Agent in Charge Daniel P. Love — and from the additional officers that were involved in the round-up operations in April 2014 — that there has been much more to the story than most were aware.
While I have come into this story later than most who are involved, I have had access to Cliven Bundy like no one else. I spent two months at the detention center in Pahrump, NV, carefully chronicling Cliven’s story as his biographer. Since my release, I have immersed not only my entire life; but, my editors, and research team in the Bundy drama.
Going into the trial, I quickly recognized that because of my background, I was more educated on the issues than most folks in the courtroom. As I listened to the opening statements, the prosecution’s witnesses, the cross examinations, evidentiary hearings, I didn’t hear much information that was new (at least, to me). Most of what I heard only confirmed all I had already written about in my book on Cliven’s story, Cliven Bundy American Patriot.
December 11th; however, was something different.
As we arrived in the courtroom this last Monday, I could see with stark disbelief that there were just a few spectators in the gallery – just four reporters and only a handful of Bundy supporters. The jury had been called and waited in the jury room; the defendants, their attorneys, and the prosecution were in position and ready for a new week of battle. Quietly, we waited for the judge to enter the courtroom and then the jury.
And we waited.
Nearly an hour we waited.
“All Rise,” the court clerk called out and Chief Judge Gloria Navarro entered.
As we retook our seats, Judge Navarro began; “I would like to get some clarifications on the mistrial motions. Though these matters are not ripe, I want and give the parties some idea of my concerns.” And, with that, she spent the next full hour listing each motion and 14 of her concerns. Of those she listed there were seven possible “Brady” violations.
The Brady Rule, named after the Court’s rulings in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), requires prosecutors to disclose materially exculpatory evidence in the government’s possession to the defense.
“Brady material,” that is, the evidence the prosecutor is required to disclose under this rule, includes: evidence favorable to the accused, evidence that goes towards negating a defendant’s guilt, evidence that would reduce a defendant’s potential sentence, or evidence going to the credibility of a witness.
While Brady violations have several remedies; only one of these – and the most drastic – is a mistrial. Typically, a Brady violation is discovered after a trial has concluded and is used to petition the court to rule for a mistrial and to set aside the conviction. In order to win a mistrial, the defense must prove that there is reasonable probability that the outcome of the trial would have been different in order for a mistrial to be granted.
In the Bundy case, Judge Navarro may be considering a mistrial just as the trial has begun to gain steam, months away from its conclusion with a jury verdict. Most judges would prefer that the jury make the final verdict, as is in our legal tradition. But, there is yet another reason for Brady violation ruling: the proof that if the evidence were made available, the case would have taken a different light. And it is with this aspect that Judge Navarro may be taking serious consideration.
As careful as Judge Navarro was in listing her concerns, she did not give too many specifics. In a previous (and rare) pre-trial order, Judge Navarro placed certain evidence under seal. Thus, by her own order, she cannot be overly specific. But, if you listen carefully and you understand the background as thoroughly as I do, you can extrapolate some of the issues at hand that might shed a “different light” on this trial.
Cliven Bundy has always taken the stance that the Federal Government has had no jurisdiction to take the action they did in impounding his cattle. Moreover, the government took the extraordinary action during the impound operation to surround his home, set up checkpoints, threaten his family, and physically abuse his family. He also told me that they had snipers surrounding his home. Ammon Bundy claimed to have seen the snipers’ red targeting lasers not only on him; but, dancing on the bodies of the Bundy children. And, much, much more.
Honestly, when I first heard of these things while incarcerated with Cliven and ‘The Bundy 19,’ (as he, his four boys, and the 14 other supporters who also had been arrested and detained with the 5 Bundy men before their trials) were called by the inmates in the detention center in Pahrump, I just figured Cliven was embellishing his story. To my surprise, after I was released and began the research for the book, there they were, in fact, snipers clearly visible in the videos of the various incidents related to the April 2014 cattle round up.
As it turns out, it was much worse than even Cliven knew.
All along, the prosecution has just scoffed, and dismissed, Cliven’s claims.
But, on Monday, we learned from Judge Navarro several things we didn’t know before:
SNIPERS: It turns out that there were indeed snipers. The Bundys have been saying this for years. The prosecution has denied it; but since, have acquiesced saying only that although there were some people lying down along the ridges, they were merely “Over-Watch” people – just guys with binoculars and radios. We learned; however, from Special Agent in Charge Dan Love (of all people), in his sworn testimony of October 25, 2017, that actually there were snipers. With guns. Now the prosecution is saying they were just “practicing” and there was nothing to it. My question is what were they “practicing” when they aimed their guns at unarmed American citizens? Does it stop being “practice” and become “implementation” only when they pull the trigger?
Free Range Report