- The Washington Times - Monday, December 11, 2017

A Nevada federal judge raised the possibility of a mistrial Monday in the 2014 standoff at the Bundy ranch, citing the failure of prosecutors to provide the defense in a timely fashion with a slew of documents.

U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro also dismissed the jurors, who had returned Monday to the Las Vegas courthouse for the first time since Nov. 29, and told them to return Dec. 20.

She said the government’s failure to share documents, information and witness names with defense attorneys in a timely fashion was “sufficient to undermine the confidence in the outcome of the trial,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Her statements came as an encouraging sign for the four defendants — rancher Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and their colleague Ryan Payne — all of whom are considered key figures in the showdown with the Bureau of Land Management.

“I hope to get the case dismissed before the jurors come back,” Bret Whipple, an attorney representing Cliven Bundy, told the Review-Journal.

After the jurors were allowed to leave, the judge met with prosecutors and defense attorneys in a closed session.

Two weeks ago, Judge Navarro ordered conditional releases for Cliven and Ammon Bundy after nearly two years in custody, but 71-year-old Cliven Bundy rejected the release offer, opting to remain in jail as a matter of principle.

Ryan Bundy was released Nov. 13, the day before the start of the trial.

In the matter of Ryan Payne, Judge Navarro has said she would consult with a federal court in Oregon before freeing him, given that he awaits sentencing in Portland over his guilty plea in the January 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The defendants have been charged with federal conspiracy, assault, obstruction and weapons charges stemming from the armed standoff at the Bundy ranch in Bunkerville, spurred by a clash over federal public-lands policy.

Cliven Bundy and his supporters squared off against BLM agents who tried to impound the family’s cattle in April 2014 after he refused for years to pay grazing fees, saying he didn’t recognize the federal government’s authority.

Among the documents was an FBI memo saying that an agent carried an AR-15 rifle, a piece of information that could be used to bolster the defense’s claim that the Bundy family felt threatened by federal “snipers.”

“The federal government is required to produce documents that assist the defense,” Mr. Whipple told Reuters. “The rules dictate fairness, and when the rules are violated, the proper remedy is dismissal.”

The Justice Department has argued that the defendants “recruited, organized, and led hundreds of other followers in using armed force against law enforcement officers in order to thwart the seizure and removal of Cliven Bundy’s cattle from federal public lands.”

Cliven Bundy’s wife Carol Bundy explained his decision to remain in custody, where he has spent the last 21 months.

“When he leaves prison, he will leave a free man,” she told Reuters. “He’s made a stand for freedom.”

The trial is the second of three planned trials, involving 19 people charged in relation to the Bunkerville standoff.

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