A federal judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in the case against rancher Cliven Bundy and co-defendants accused of leading the 2014 Nevada standoff, admonishing the prosecution for failing to turn over “potentially exculpatory” evidence to the defense.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro also dismissed the jurors after seven weeks of testimony on charges brought against Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and Ryan Payne in Las Vegas federal court.
“The judge is obligated to disclose all evidence that might be favorable” to defense attorneys, she said.
She said the federal prosecution had failed to disclose information in five areas: “records about surveillance and snipers at the Bundy Ranch; unredacted FBI logs about activity at the ranch in the days around the standoff; threat assessments about the Bundys dating to 2012; and internal affairs reports about the BLM,” according to the Arizona Republic.
The mistrial comes as the second this year involving the 19 defendants in the three-tiered trial and another defeat for the Justice Department in cases involving the Bundy family and its protests against federal land-management policies in Nevada and Oregon.
The judge scheduled tentatively a new trial to begin Feb. 26, although defense attorneys have argued that the case should be thrown out. Carol Bundy, wife of Cliven Bundy and mother of Ammon and Ryan, praised the judge for her decision.
“Today our prayers were heard and the current trial against my husband, sons and other defendants was declared a mistrial,” Mrs. Bundy said on the Bundy Ranch page on Facebook. “We wanted a dismissal but are grateful that the truth is getting out. We are a step closer to freedom.”
The charges stem from the April 2014 clash between the BLM and hundreds of the family’s supporters, some of them armed, at the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada, after agents attempted to impound the family’s cattle.
Cliven Bundy had refused for years to pay grazing fees in a protest against the federal government’s authority over public lands.• This story is based in part on wire service reports.
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