U.S. District judge declares mistrial in federal case against 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff

The federal case against Cliven, Ammon, and Ryan Bundy, along with a co-defendant, has ended in a mistrial. 12/20/17 (Sketch by Stewart Freshwater)

A U.S. District judge declared a mistrial in the federal case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his two sons, and one other co-defendant on Wednesday.

Inside a packed room at the federal courthouse in Las Vegas, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro said that a fair trial would be “impossible” after finding that the government intentionally withheld key evidence from the Bundys and their defense team.

“Their job is not to get convictions and yet that's all they've been seeking and they've been doing it at whatever cost they can -- lying, deceit, whatever -- and that's not what our government is supposed to do,” said Ryan Bundy following the hearing. “Our government is supposed to be seeking justice and the truth -- the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

RELATED | Federal case against 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff ends in mistrial

Judge Navarro said the evidence withheld by the government included a surveillance camera set up to monitor the Bundys' home, maps, and FBI logs – all collected during the 2014 armed standoff between the Bundys and BLM agents. It was a battle at the Bunkerville Ranch over grazing rights and unpaid fees to the government.

“They came on us and provoked us and tried to use threats, tried to get us to act and we acted appropriately. We still used the rights we have,” said Ammon Bundy.

For the defendants dressed in true cowboy attire, a mistrial is one step toward vindication – but the legal fight is not over.

“The battle is not done yet. We’re going to file documents to determine whether this case even has the opportunity to come back or not,” said Attorney Bret Whipple, who represents Cliven Bundy.

As for Cliven Bundy, he remains in federal lockup right now. His attorney plans on filing for an emergency release.

RELATED | Ammon Bundy released from federal custody in Las Vegas

Ian D. Prior, Principal Deputy Director of Public Affairs, issued the following statement about the Bundy case:

“The Attorney General takes this issue very seriously and has personally directed that an expert in the Department’s discovery obligations be deployed to examine the case and advise as to next steps.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Steven W. Myhre also issued a statement on Wednesday:

“We respect the ruling of the Court and take very seriously our discovery obligations. The Office welcomes the assistance of the Attorney General as we continue to evaluate the case in light of the Court’s ruling.”

A decision regarding whether the case is eligible for a new trial could be made by Jan. 8.

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