“The appearance of impropriety and the conflicts of of interest have already occurred in this case,” lawyers said in a heavily redacted motion. “Justice requires that, to avoid any other appearance of unfairness, the court disqualify the USAO of Nevada.”

Robert Anglen

AZ Central

Defendants in the upcoming Bundy Ranch standoff trial say Nevada federal prosecutors need to be disqualified and removed from the cases they launched two years ago.

The defendants, including two of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s sons, want a judge to bar the entire Nevada U.S. Attorney’s Office from prosecuting the case.

In a motion filed late Friday, four of the five remaining defendants say Nevada prosecutors have multiple conflicts of interest and should be viewed as potential witnesses if the case goes forward.

They say the entire prosecution team needs to be replaced because they could be called to testify in court about recently revealed documents raising questions about their conduct.

“The appearance of impropriety and the conflicts of of interest have already occurred in this case,” lawyers said in a heavily redacted motion. “Justice requires that, to avoid any other appearance of unfairness, the court disqualify the USAO of Nevada.”

The motion, like hundreds of documents in the Bundy standoff case, was filed partially under seal and cannot be viewed by the public in its entirety.

It comes just four days after a judge threw out cases against Bundy, two of his other sons and a militia member accused of plotting and leading an armed standoff against federal land agents in 2014.

U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro found federal prosecutors recklessly and outrageously violated the men’s rights to a fair trial by withholding evidence that could have helped exonerate them. She dismissed the case against Bundy and others “with prejudice,” meaning they cannot be retried.

The Nevada U.S. Attorney’s Office did not respond to requests for comment Saturday.

Defendants David and Melvin Bundy, Joseph O’Shaughnessy and Jason Woods said the Nevada federal prosecutors have “demonstrated an inability or refusal to recognize”  that they could be called as witnesses.

The four men, along with co-defendant Brian Cavalier, are scheduled to begin trial Feb. 26. They are the last of 17 defendants charged in the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff, in which cattle ranchers and militia members are accused of using guns to prevent federal agents from seizing Bundy’s cattle on public land.

The defendants said they are not looking for a change of venue to have the trial moved to another state, but are asking that new attorneys be brought in from other jurisdictions.

“Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Steven Myhre, Daniel Schiess, Nadia Ahmed and Erin Creegan have been prosecuting the Bundy case for years,” defendants said in their motion. “They have made themselves material witnesses and must withdraw from the conflicting role.”

The defendants are calling for a hearing to determine who is qualified to prosecute the case and said any new prosecutors should be prepared to question their colleagues on the witness stand.

“Their colleagues from another district will be expected to examine them at trial and uphold their ethical obligations to the fullest degree, including investigating the truthfulness and consistency of their colleagues; statements made under oath,” the motion states.

The defendants also want to ensure a jury is able to view live the testimony of the prosecutors in the Bundy case, as they would any other case agent or witness.

“It goes without saying that a witness to this case cannot serve as the member of the prosecution team,” the motion states.

The exact details of the alleged conflicts facing prosecutors appear to be blacked out of the 12-page motion. However, the defendants alluded to a report made public last month by a federal agent who alleged prosecutors engaged in a cover-up of information about misconduct during the standoff by members of the Bureau of Land Management.

A federal investigator alleged in a Nov. 27 memo to the assistant U.S. attorney general that prosecutors in the Bundy Ranch standoff trial covered up misconduct by law-enforcement agents who engaged in “likely policy, ethical and legal violations.”

Read the full report here


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