Attorneys seek to have charges against Bunkerville defendants thrown out

Bunkerville standoff defendants and family members (AP pix)

Unsealed but redacted motions by federal public defenders demand that the judge dismiss charges against the four Bunkerville standoff defendants with prejudice.

Among other things the motions noted that the indictment of rancher Cliven Bundy, four of sons and others included allegations that  armed protesters were recruited to come to the ranch to oppose a BLM impoundment of Bundy’s cattle “by falsely stating Cliven Bundy’s house was ‘surrounded by snipers.’ … The government also alleges Cliven Bundy’s message over the internet stating
that ‘they have [his] house surrounded … [that the BLM] are armed with assault rifles … [and that] they have snipers’ was a deceptive statement made to encourage others to travel to Bundy Ranch for unlawful purposes.”

But there were in fact, according to documents revealed at the start of the current trial, snipers deployed.

“In essence, the government’s theory is that the recruitment of others flourished as a result of a ‘false narrative’ that was being disseminated, one which highlighted the surrounding of Cliven Bundy’s house and the presence of snipers,” one motion states. “This false narrative is an anchor in the government’s case: the government argues hundreds of people came to the Bundy Ranch in reliance on the false narrative and that the false narrative was further used as a pretext to mount a massive armed assault on the government on April 12, 2017. Given the government’s theory of the case, it was stunning to hear the government state on November 29, 2017, that it did not know information on the surveillance cameras and snipers would be helpful to the defense because it was ‘it’s not apparent to us that an LPOP would be or a surveillance camera would be interpreted as a sniper.'”

So the whole false narrative argument is itself false.

The motion argues that it matters not whether the prosecution intentionally withheld evidence from the defendants, but whether there was “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct” in a case in which defendants face sentences upward of 57 years, “a life sentence for any of them.”

This motion concludes:

The fact that the government sought to ask a jury to convict these defendants and then ask this Court to sentence them to prison for the rest of their lives without giving the defense the information recently disclosed should more than trouble this Court. Anything short of dismissing this case with prejudice implicitly conveys to the prosecution that “behave[ing] with such casual disregard for [their] constitutional obligations and the rights of the accused” is acceptable conduct
and “endorse[s] and invite[s]” repetition of those transgressions.

This motion further raises the issue as to the fairness of the earlier trials in which some defendants were convicted — with one being sentenced to 68 years in prison, noting that it is clear those defendants did not have the information the defendants in this trial have just received. “The legal theories of defense may have been structured differently, which would have allowed those defendants to present critical evidence,” the motion states.

Motions posted by The Oregonian include:

Ryan Payne motion to dismiss based on discovery provided Nov. 17, 2017

Ryan Payne motion to dismiss based on discovery provided Nov. 21, 2017

Ryan Payne motion to dismiss based on continuing pattern of evidence violations

Ryan Payne reply to a government response to motion to dismiss

From the indictment:

3 comments on “Attorneys seek to have charges against Bunkerville defendants thrown out

  1. Btll says:

    The rule about turning over exculpatory evidence is not and should not be left to the prosecution to decide what is exculpatory. Neither law nor common sense countenance such a result.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Bill.

    Must be the eggnog.

    Happy Holidays!

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