The Associated Press reports that a Nevada federal judge declared a mistrial this week in a case against four men who allegedly led an armed standoff with federal agents in 2014 during a dispute over cattle grazing.
Las Vegas Chief U.S. Judge Gloria Navarro declared the mistrial and dismissed jurors in the case against Cliven Bundy, Ryan and Ammon Bundy, and Ryan Payne, a self-declared Montana militia leader. This case marks the latest in a string of similar cases against defendants opposing federal control of massive amounts of land in the western United States, mainly in Nevada and Oregon.
In early 2016, jurors in Oregon acquitted Ryan and Ammon Bundy for taking over a wildlife refuge for over a month during public calls to turn over federal public lands for local control.
Judge Navarro declared the mistrial amidst prosecutors failing to turn over all evidence to the defense, including records regarding the conduct of the FBI and Bureau of Land Management during the standoff, says the AP.
This case was long-awaited and a result of Cliven Bundy refusing to pay grazing fees to the government over several decades before the argument ended in the armed standoff. Bundy, a 71-year-old rancher, has stated that his family has grazed cattle on the lands for over a century, and that public land belongs to the states rather than the federal government, the AP reports.
The four defendants were accused of rounding up several gunmen during the standoff. The government gathered Bundy’s cattle during the melee. Prosecutors had no comment whether they would strive for a retrial, but the men face a maximum of 15 felony charges if they do. Charges may include assault and threats against federal officers, firearms, obstruction and extortion.
*Photo credit AP