Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to reconsider the dismissal of the criminal case against a Nevada rancher who led a 2014 armed standoff with government agents.
States’ rights activist Cliven Bundy and his sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy have a right to their beliefs but don’t have a right to obstruct federal law enforcement officers, wrote Dayle Elieson, the interim U.S. Attorney in Nevada, in a court filing Wednesday.
Elieson said the Bundys sought all along to “deflect responsibility” and blame the federal government even though they risked the lives of more than 20 officers who were “simply doing what they were told to do.”
The Bundys and their supporters “demonized the uniformed men and women in the wash, conflated their jobs with their identities, and claimed that their work was immoral,” Elieson wrote.
Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro last month dismissed the criminal case against Bundy, his two sons and a Montana militia leader. The judge cited what she called flagrant misconduct by federal prosecutors who failed to fully share evidence with defendants.
Elieson doesn’t say in the filing if her office will appeal to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and Trisha Young, a spokeswoman for the office, declined to answer the question.
Bundy’s attorney, Bret Whipple, didn’t return request for comment to the Associated Press but told the Las Vegas Review Journal that prosecutors may be trying to buy more time to decide on an appeal. Whipple told the Review Journal the filing contains no new information and is without merit.
After the case was dismissed and Cliven Bundy was let out of jail, the rancher who has become an icon in conservative and anti-government circles said it’s up to the states, not the federal officials, how to manage rangeland in the West.
“I don’t recognize the federal government to have authority, jurisdiction, no matter who the president is,” Bundy said last month.
Elieson argues in the new filing that Judge Navarro should have dismissed individual counts rather than the entire case.
She contends that the dismissal sets a dangerous precedent for law enforcement by encouraging the public to disrespect the law.
“This case has major ramifications for all public lands law enforcement officers,” Elieson said. “These officers often work alone in remote rural areas of the country with no available back-up if confronted with danger.”
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