Circuit court slaps down judge and rules against rancher

One person’s bias and prejudice is another’s accurate assessment.

On Friday the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals kicked the decades-old Hage ranch case back to the federal court in Nevada, ordering the court to assess damages for the ranch allowing its cattle to trespass on federal land and kicked the federal judge who sided with the ranch to be removed from the case.

The case involves the estate of E. Wayne Hage and his son Wayne N. Hage and has been going on since 1979.

Federal Judge Robert Jones had ruled in favor of the Hages, whose ranch is near Tonopah and even cited two federal land managers for contempt. The circuit court tossed all that.

This is what the court said about Judge Jones:

A dispassionate observer would conclude that the district judge harbored animus toward the federal agencies. Unfortunately, the judge’s bias and prejudgment are a matter of public record. On the first day of the 21-day trial, the judge stated: “the Bureau of Land Management, you come in with the standard arrogant, arbitrary, capricious attitude that I recognize in many of these cases.”

“[I]t’s my experience that the Forest Service and the BLM is very arbitrary and capricious.” “Your insistence upon a trespass violation, unwillful —your arbitrary determination of unwillfulness [sic: willfulness] is undoubtedly going to fail in this court.”

At a pretrial motions hearing, the judge advised a third-party rancher that he could file a lawsuit against the government and that “[h]opefully you’ll get Judge Jones because I’m very receptive to Mr. Hage’s lawsuit.” Addressing Hage, the judge stated: “You have a court that’s very receptive and sympathetic to your claim.”

At a separate pretrial motions hearing, the judge stated: “In my opinion, not only in this case but in many cases, the government has been all too ready to — in the name of revoking or suspending or limiting grazing licenses, the government has been all too ready in the history of Nevada to impair otherwise suspected and substantiated rights of landowners.”

The judge explained in detail: We all know what that game is about. . . . And the game, just for the record, even though the government in many cases didn’t have the right to insist upon a permit, because asking for a permit would be an additional limitation on the right of use of a property right[], nevertheless, the government in many cases has insisted upon it, and then, when they denied or suspended or revoked the right, they said you no longer have the right. So that’s what that game is all about.

During the contempt hearings, the judge stated: “I don’t like and never have liked the BLM’s or Forest Service’s arrogant presumption that they could assess to people for [animal unit months], for trespass, their own travel costs, office costs, sitting in their big chair already paid for by the American taxpayer.”

Wayne Hage

To many Nevada observers it is Judge Jones who has an accurate view of the events and deeds taking place on federal land here and the circuit court judges who are prejudiced and uninformed.

In 2013, Sen. Dean Heller took the floor of the Senate to agree with Judge Jones.

“The court found that for more than two decades, federal officials entrusted with responsibly managing public lands actively conspired to deprive Wayne Hage, and his father’s estate, of their grazing permits and their water rights,” Heller said. “In its decision, the court ruled that ‘the government had abused its discretion through a series of actions designed to strip the Estate of its grazing permits, and of the ability to use water rights.’”

He added, “The Framers of the Constitution believed that private property rights were sacred. The 5th and 14th Amendments specifically prohibit the government from depriving citizens of ‘Life, Liberty, or Property, without Due Process of law.’ And those amendments are there for a reason.”

The court ordered the Nevada district court to enter a judgment for the government on all claims and to calculate appropriate damages.

The liberal court has once again sided with the bureaucrats over the citizens who are being run over roughshod.

Hage ruling

Hage contempt

39 comments on “Circuit court slaps down judge and rules against rancher

  1. Patrick says:

    Judge Jones is no stranger to the allegations made against his judicial conduct.

    Do we deserve unbiased dispassionate judges that base their decisions on the facts of the case before them or not?

  2. nyp says:

    seems like a pretty solid ruling.

  3. All the more reason that a Convention of States is sorely needed to clip the wings of an out of control appellate system…some of which has become little more than the “hammer and sickle” enforcement arm of the progressive socialist left. It has usurped power from the legislative branches of state, local and even federal representatives of the people. Judge Jones was spot on!

  4. nyp says:

    wow – how loony

  5. Says one of the two cheerleaders for the Sheriff of Nottingham and the King…

  6. nyp says:

    Look there is a specific court decision dealing with specific legal issues. The decision is either correct or incorrect. I read the Court of Appeals decision and it seems pretty compelling to me. No one has made a case that the decision was legally incorrect. Instead, I see a lot of hand-waving about the mean, mean federal government and the Sheriff of Nottingham. That is simply insufficient.

  7. How are the Hages supposed to get access to their own water rights? Do as one Forest Service ranger told them: Drop them in by helicopter?

  8. nyp says:

    They could have done what they refused to do for years and years: apply for a grazing permit.

  9. Patrick says:

    They also could have diverted the water. As the decisions said. But apparently, the ranchers didn’t want the water as it would have been useless without the grazing rights, so they just ignored the law.

    Look, I understand. You’re way the hell out in what seems to be the middle of no where, you feel like you ought to be able to do what the hell you like. You sure don’t feel like you’re hurting no one, and your cows are eating some scrub that don’t seem like it’s worth nothing to no one, I get that. And you don’t have to like that the rules have changed, for reasons that don’t make sense to you.

    But they have, and it really wasn’t that complicated to do the right thing.

  10. Divert the water? Hage was criminally indicted for just maintaining the ditch.

    The feds at one point cut grazing permits by 100 percent for five years. Nevada water requires use-it-or-lose-it with a five-year allowance.

  11. nyp says:

    that is a colorful way to put it. Inaccurate, but colorful.

  12. Patrick says:

    Yes, divert the water, that was among the options available. And he wasn’t indicted for the ditch, as I understand it, he was indicted because he had his cows running around where they weren’t supposed to be.

    You know I got a thousand laws I have to obey everyday that don’t make no sense to me Thomas, like say parking my car a certain way on the street or not driving above a certain speed limit on an empty road, those laws don’t make no sense to me but when I get cited for violating them what good does it do me to run to the courts whining about the big bad government?

    Not only that, this guy ain’t no poor slob. Heck he’s richer than most people will EVER be, and I’m supposed to feel sorry for him cause he was to lazy, or too arrogant to just fill out some papers like he ought to have?


  13. The feds kept cutting his AUMs.

  14. Steve says:

    Wayne Hage is rich… a way I suppose.
    He’s dead. This lawsuit outlasted his life.
    That might make him rich in the eyes of some.

  15. You can’t fight a deathless government with deep, deep pockets and win.

  16. Patrick says:

    Property owners get to, unless it’s a violation of some law, do with their property what they want.

    If, instead of the government, we were dealing with two private parties, and one of them, who formerly allowed the other to use their land for grazing, decided to allow less grazing, for fewer cows, than he had before Thomas, you wouldn’t think much about it.

    Ain’t no reason that should change just because one property owner happens to be the government.

  17. Hage’s daughter in Range magazine that he was indicted in 1991 for maintaining his ditch only months after suing the government for a “takings” claim. He was convicted but the 9th circuit overturned.

  18. Patrick says:

    The government did not prevent Hage from maintaining his ditches, it merely required that he apply for permits to maintain them. Furthermore, they NEVER denied him the permit when he applied.

    He just stopped applying, but went on doing it in violation of the rules.

    Click to access The%20Wayne%20Hage%20Case.pdf

  19. nyp says:

    I really don’t know the facts about this case and I don’t care to delve too deeply. Nor am I much of an expert on the various statutes and precedents governing private use of land owned by the People of the United States. So I usually don’t comment on these posts. But it is very, very hard to read the Court of Appeal’s decision and think that Mr. Hage and his family have been dealt a grave injustice. Perhaps they have, but the equities hardly jump out at you.

  20. Patrick says:

    Well Pete the law is the law, and they didn’t follow it, and they could have, and it wouldn’t have been too tough to do it based on the fact that they did it in the past.

    But, I feel for them anyway. Sure they’re rich, and they got what seems from the outside, to be a pretty idyllic life style home there on the range. And they probably done lots of things technically outside the “law” all them years being so far away from many people.

    But they’ve no doubt had to be tough to live out there all these years, and they’ve been used to doing things certain ways that they can being way out there all by themselves. And it probably didn’t affect no one else much if their cows ate a few extra swallows of sage or whatever even if it did come from public land.

    Even I romanticize it and wouldn’t mind dreaming about doing it (although it would probably not be so romantic if I did) and don’t necessarily want that way of life to end, and can see them saying to hell with these stupid, seemingly arbitrary rules imposed on them by know nothing bureaucrats from the city?

    But that’s just what is going to happen cause the world is getting smaller and smaller.

  21. Rincon says:

    Individual egalitarianism only works when resources are nearly infinite and individuals few. No longer the case.

  22. Rincon says:

    I do agree however, that the feds need to give up far more of their western land holdings.

  23. The other side of the coin…a far more compelling and complete accounting than the above appellate rulings…the Feds may have circled the wagons, but their arbitrary abuse of discretion and violations of due process are here for all to see…

    Click to access hage-6-24-2013-findings-of-fact-law-injunction.pdf

  24. nyp says:

    except that all of that was found by the Court of Appeals to be in error. The decision you cite was reversed in its entirety.

  25. Patrick says:


    And would you also agree that large individual property owners ought to give up more of their land holdings?

    I mean, you’re a reasonable guy, what is it about people, otherwise true believers in property rights, that makes them as that we should more or less force a property owner to give up their property?


  26. Steve says:

    The Constitution protects individual property rights, not collective property ownership.

  27. I’m well aware of that nyp…thus the “circling the wagons” quip. From the appellate ruling above – “In 1993, Hage Senior filed an application for renewal of the grazing permit, but the BLM denied it because, in its view, the application had not been completed properly.” In the Jones ruling I linked…you’ll see the actual, complete story of what really occurred and why this is preposterous. In essence…the BLM changed the grazing permits…the Hages filed for a renewal, with an addendum that included the statutory history of their grazing rights…which the FEDS refused to acknowledge. So the BLM refuses the renewal…then prosecutes the ranchers for not having a permit. I only hope you and Patrick are faced with going up against this Federal juggernaut some day with all of its regulatory tentacles…perhaps then, you may have a bit of empathy for what this family has endured, and why this latest appellate decision is another hammer to the head. This is NOT what the framers intended…nor what concerned citizens of this republic should tolerate.

  28. Patrick says:


    All the Hages had to do was what I do most every day; follow a thousand and one laws that don’t really make much sense to me. Heck, they had done it for years and years, and it’s not like they didn’t know how. They just decided they didn’t want to no more for reasons only they can know. And, as I mentioned to Thomas, if the property owner (in this case the US government) decides to change how many cows they are going to allow on their property, then that’s what they get to do as owners of the property. And just because the Hages (or the Bundys) don’t like it, doesn’t mean they get to ignore it. Just like when I don’t like the fact that the city decides to make a formerly two way street, and turn it into a one way street, doesn’t make it legal for me to use that street as if it were a two way street.

    Like I said, these people been breaking the law for YEARS, and reaping LOTS of free money off that lawbreaking as a result and that isn’t right.

  29. Actually…you’re incorrect, if only it were that simple. YOU WILL COMPLY…OR WE WILL BANKRUPT YOU…(and your heirs)…PERIOD!

  30. Steve says:

    The federal government cant even tell us how many laws are on the books.
    How are we supposed to be able to obey laws we don’t even know exist?

    Everyone commits at least three felonies every day.

    And it’s interesting how some people insist collective control of lands are more protected than private ownership of land.

  31. If everyone owns something, no one owns it … or takes responsibility for it.

  32. Patrick says:

    So I count three (since my post) non responsive responses.

    Look I didn’t make the laws, and I didn’t even say I agreed with the laws, but the laws are the laws and we’re supposed to be a nation of laws.

    Hage, and the rest of us, have an obligation to follow laws that are properly enacted, along with the relegation so that are propounded in furtherance of those laws; Hage didn’t. At least he didn’t the last time, even though he had for years prior. He knew what the laws were, he knew how to follow them, he just decided, for reasons I may be able to understand as I explained above, that he didn’t want to follow them anymore. I’ll also note that one of the citations from Stanford point out that the government had NEVER denied Hage the permits he needed to build ditches necessary to divert HIS water; he just stopped applying for those permits and did it anyway. So he got tired of applying even though he knew he was required to and even though the government had never denied him a permit in the past. I’m sorry but he’s got only himself to blame here.

    And Thomas be serious, here are private entities, that hold property in joint tenancy (with thousands of others) who mange to keep their property up all well and fine. The citizens, and all of us, hold property in much the same fashion and but for individuals like Hage, that would misuse that property, in contravention of the rules “we” impose on that use, that property is well cared for. Seems to me, the very rules we have set out, and the enforcement or attempted enforcement of those rules, against violators like the Hages (and Bundys) belie your allegation.

    And finally, Stevetard; who is that you’re listening to about “collective property rights” and how much more “protected” they are than private property rights? Cause, I sure am not the source for you. Heck, if anything, all I’ve pointed out here is that private property rights and public property rights ought to get pretty much the same protection.

  33. Steve says:

    From the king of “generalized crap” comes one of the most non responsive responses yet.

    Going to the word based provocation again too.

    Haven’t you figured it out yet yet? Words are not sticks and stones.

    Now, tell us all, which laws you broke today.

  34. Patrick says:

    “Everyone commits at least three felonies every day.”

    Is this an admission that Stevetard committed 3 felonies each day of his life?

    I suppose, as a good citizen, this admission ought to be forwarded to the appropriate authorities.

  35. Steve says:

    Patrick still insists words hurt….Patrick must have a thin skin and be easily offended.

    fits the profile.

  36. Rincon says:

    Nothing is more powerful than an idea, but ideas are impotent until expressed in words. This makes words among our most potent forces. Of course words can hurt. Isn’t it words that have caused all of the changes caused by those nasty Liberals?

  37. Steve says:

    Another “sensitive” one.

  38. Rincon says:

    I think perceptive is a better word.

  39. Steve says:

    Perception, is misleading.

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