In a motion filed in federal court Tuesday Cliven Bundy’s attorney asks that he be set free because prosecutors have failed to prove he poses either a risk of harm to anyone or is a flight risk.
Bundy has been jailed without bail since being arrested in February on charges growing out of the standoff at his Bunkerville ranch two years ago, when armed men faced down federal agents who were confiscating Bundy’s cattle for failing to obtain grazing permits on federal land. He and 18 others are accused of obstruction of justice, conspiracy, extortion, assault and impeding federal officers.
Attorney Joel Hansen argues (Free_Bundy_Motion) that Bundy is a political prisoner:
“The government is trying Cliven Bundy in these motions, rather than before a jury of his peers. The government is holding Mr. Bundy in solitary confinement, a man who has never hurt a fly. The government seems to be afraid that it might lose in a jury trial, so it wants to keep him in prison, in solitary confinement, as long as it can, because he, like Nelson Mandela, is a political prisoner. … There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution allowing the federal government to hold political prisoners without a trial. Nothing.”
Hansen based his political prison allegations on the fact that Bundy is accused by the government of having “strong anti-federal government views” and that his views are not “principled.”
“Mr. Bundy, in studying the US Constitution, found in the First Amendment that he had freedom of speech and that the government can’t take that away.” Hansen blusters. “And where in all of Anglo-American or Constitutional law is it held that someone’s views must, in the government’s opinion, be ‘principled?’ Are we now in a fascist state where one’s opinions must be, in the opinion of the government, ‘principled?’ This is dangerous talk, to say the least.”
Hansen states that under the Bail Reform Act the government must prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that Bundy poses a danger the community or it must prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that he is a flight risk — noting that Bundy has not gone anywhere for two years.
He also recalls that Bundy was never at the “scene of any confrontation, never brandished a weapon, was never armed with any firearm, never directed anyone to assault a federal officer, and never assaulted anyone or committed any battery in his life.”
In fact the only violence was committed by federal agents who killed and buried two of Bundy’s bulls, threw his sister to the ground, Tasered one son twice and arrested another son for recording a video, holding him overnight with no charges ever filed, the motion says, though it fails to mention that federal agents also destroyed a 12,000-gallon water tank.
The attorney also addresses Bundy’s 20-year conflict with the Bureau of Land Management, which he says was supposed to encourage ranching. Instead, it has restricted the number of cattle and the grazing seasons to the point that it shut down every rancher in Clark County, except Bundy, who defied their orders.
Hansen also argued there is no proof that Bundy every organized anything or ordered anyone to do anything.
The motion further nettles the government with this sly twist on the underlying motives and meaning of the confrontation:
“The government further baldly asserts: ‘Many of these officers … remain profoundly affected emotionally by this event to this day.’ What are the names of these officers? Where are their statements that they are profoundly affected? Where are their psychologists’ statements that they are profoundly affected? If they are profoundly affected, is it because they concluded that they were like Redcoats attacking patriots? Do they believe that they were in the wrong because of what they did? Why does the government continue endlessly to make these broad and bald statements without anything but the word of a government ghost writer that they are true?”
Bundy would agree to any travel, firearm or GPS tracking restrictions the government would impose in return for being set free.
“Cliven Bundy is about as likely to hurt someone or to flee Nevada as a desert tortoise,” the motion attests. “It just isn’t going to happen.”