A number of people have noted that the BLM was just carrying out a federal judge’s order when it bungled its attempt to roundup rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle from federal public land in the Gold Butte area.
Federal Judge Lloyd George authorized the BLM to confiscate Bundy’s cattle and the agency dutifully attempted to do so.
But in September 2012 another federal judge, Robert Jones, found that in the Hage Ranch case Tonopah BLM manager Tom Seley and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Service ranger Steve Williams were in contempt for witness intimidation and attempts to circumvent the jurisdiction of the court over issues of grazing and water rights that were being litigated in federal court. The judge said there was “intent to deprive this court of jurisdiction by intimidation of witnesses and threats against witnesses.”
Judge Jones ordered from the bench, “Mr. Seley can no longer be an administrator in this BLM district. I don’t trust him to be unbiased. Nor can he supervise anybody in this district.”
A year later the son of the ranch owner who brought the case, Wayne N. Hage, testified before Congress that nothing was done to the two men cited. One still holds the same office and Seley retired.
In written testimony, which followed somewhat his spoken testimony, Hage stated:
“It is warming to know that with regard to the Courts that we still have the Rule of Law. Although as I have found out it is nearly impossible to defend a persons property and rights in the courts due to the financial burdens and the length of time involved. (My Mother and Father filed the original case and were not able to live long enough to see the end of the litigation. My step Mother died before there was an end to the litigation and it is looking like my siblings and I may be in old age before this is concluded.) However there it is becoming very apparent that there is no rule of law with regard to the employs of the BLM, USFS and perhaps the DOJ, there we have the rule of man. I remind congress that Aristotle explained that the difference between a correct form of government and perverse form of government is that the former is the Rule of Law and the latter is the rule of man.”
I guess some judicial orders are more equal than others.