U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial Wednesday in case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, marking the fourth time in the past two years the federal government has failed to convict a member of the Bundy family or their compatriots.
Navarro’s ruling came after numerous instances of prosecutorial misconduct from the team led by acting U.S. attorney for Nevada Steven Myhre. The prosecution violated the Bundys’ right to a fair trial by withholding exculpatory evidence that potentially supports the defense’s case.
Four men on trial for their roles in the 2014 standoff were freed in August after the federal government failed to land any convictions. Two of the men were acquitted of all 10 charges against them. The two other were acquitted of most charges, and the jury was hung regarding four other charges. The men were facing decades long prison sentences if convicted.
The four had already been tried once in April 2017. The trial ended in a hung jury. After delivering convictions against two others in the trial, the jury said they could not reach unanimous agreement to convict the other four. Navarro ordered the jury to continue deliberations but eventually ended the trial, saying the jury was “hopelessly deadlocked.”
The first time the federal government failed to convict the Bundys or their associates was in 2016 regarding a separate but related case from the 2014 standoff.
Cliven Bundy’s sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, led supporters to Oregon and occupied the federally owned Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. A jury acquitted both sons and five others of charges that they led an armed takeover and threatened federal agents.
The defendants in the Oregon case claimed they occupied the reserve in a symbolic protest of government overreach of federal lands. The defendants argued they presented no threat to the public.
With the latest mistrial, the Bundys’ future in court is uncertain. Federal prosecutors could push to retry Cliven and his two sons for the 2014 standoff.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice are currently investigating Myhre’s team of prosecutors for misconduct during the trial.
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