Oregonian: Biden reverses Trump, revokes Hammond permit

The Oregonian reports that Biden reverses Trump, revokes Hammond permit

A senior adviser in the U.S. Department of Interior on Friday rescinded the January decision by former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to grant Hammond Ranches Inc. a 10-year grazing permit and directed the Bureau of Land Management to further consider the matter.

The maneuver came as Congress was moving to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick of Deb Haaland as the new Interior secretary and followed a day after four environmental advocacy groups filed a federal lawsuit to block the grazing permit for the Hammonds.

It also came just days before the cattle were expected to be turned out on the more than 26,000 acres of public lands neighboring Malheur National Wildlife Refuge about 45 to 70 miles south of Burns.

The action marked the latest twist in a yearslong saga surrounding the grazing rights of Dwight Hammond Jr. and son Steven Hammond after they were convicted of setting fire to public lands and served prison time.

The new memo from the Interior secretary’s office found that the Trump administration hadn’t allowed for sufficient time to receive and consider public challenges to the permit.

A proposal to grant the permit was dated Dec. 31 but the public wasn’t immediately alerted to it until days later “resulting in confusion” about how the department would calculate an authorized 15-day protest period, according to the memo from the Interior secretary’s office.

Friday’s memo was signed by Laura Daniel-Davis, a senior adviser to the secretary exercising delegated authority of the assistant secretary of land and minerals management.

“Because the protest period had not properly concluded” before the final Jan. 19 decision was issued, “I am rescinding the January 19 Decision and remanding the matter to the BLM to allow for full consideration of the timely protests received by the BLM,” the memo said.

She directed the Bureau of Land Management to pursue additional opportunities for public involvement and “a careful and considered review” of any challenges. She also instructed the Bureau of Land Management to post notice of the rescission online and mail copies to all applicants and other interested stakeholders.

W. Alan Schroeder, the attorney representing Hammond Ranches Inc., declined comment on Friday’s development.

Four environmental advocacy groups on Thursday sued the Interior secretary and Bureau of Land Management, alleging last month’s permit approval on the final day of the Trump administration was “tainted by political influence” and that a “rushed and truncated public process” cut out opportunities for public participation required by law.

The suit further accused the federal government of granting the permit to the Hammonds over other applicants who were qualified and bypassing an administrative appeal process.

“We’re grateful that the new administration saw right away that Bernhardt’s decision to grant the grazing permit without the proper public participation could not stand,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project, one of the four groups that filed the suit. “We believe when they reconsider the proposed action, they’ll realize there were major substantive problems as well.”

The grazing permit covers four land allotments called Hammond, Mud Creek, Hardie Summer and Hammond Fenced Federal Range and allows cattle grazing on more than 26,000 acres of public lands neighboring Malheur National Wildlife Refuge about 45 to 70 miles south of Burns, near the town of Frenchglen.

In February 2014, the Bureau of Land Management rejected the Hammonds’ renewal application, citing the Hammonds’ criminal convictions.

In early 2019, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a renewal of their grazing permit on his last day in office.

The renewal followed six months after Trump’s pardon of the Hammonds in July 2018. Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond had been convicted of arson and were serving out five-year mandatory minimum sentences for setting fire to public land where they had grazing rights. Both were convicted of setting a fire in 2001, and the son was convicted of setting a second fire in 2006.

In December 2019, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon of Portland revoked the grazing permit finding Zinke’s renewal was an “abuse of discretion.”

National Review: Ninth Circuit Affirms 2016 Dismissal of Bundy Case

Federal law enforcement officers block a road during protests

From the National Review, Government Misconduct Frees Cliven Bundy as the 9th Circuit affirms the dismissal with prejudice of the case against the Bundys over cattle grazing, land use fees, and the resulting standoff in Nevada.

Politically charged prosecutions — even ones that are thoroughly justified — often end badly for the justice system. So it appears with the federal prosecutions of Cliven Bundy and his sons. The government blew its case against Bundy’s sons by overcharging them, resulting in a jury acquittal in 2016. Today, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Bundy’s own federal indictment (as well as that of several of his co-defendants) on the grounds that the government had waited until the middle of trial to disclose information that would have helped Bundy’s case, in violation of Brady v. Maryland. The misconduct was so severe and prejudicial to the Bundy clan’s case that the court barred the government from bringing the same charges again. The opinion was written by Jay Bybee, a George W. Bush appointee, but joined by judges appointed by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

The Bundy indictment charged extortion, threats to federal officers, and a variety of related crimes due to the armed standoff around the Bundy ranch arising from a longstanding dispute over unpaid grazing fees claimed by the Bureau of Land Management. The trial court rejected the Bundy clan’s self-defense theory, but, as the court wrote, “A central pillar of the government’s case was the allegation that the defendants recruited armed followers by intentionally deceiving those followers into believing that the Bundys feared for their lives because government snipers surrounded their ranch,” a charge that was touted in the government’s opening statement to the jury.

The Bundys asked for video shot by a camera they said the FBI had trained on them; the government called it a “fantastical fishing expedition,” but the camera’s existence and its live feed to the BLM command center was confirmed four days into the trial. The resulting hearing disclosed as well federal patrols “armed with AR-15 rifles” around the compound. The trial court gave the prosecution the benefit of the doubt that withholding this information was a good-faith decision, but several days later, more FBI interviews (form 302s) were disclosed discussing agents in full tactical gear watching the compound and the insertion of agents the FBI itself described as “snipers.” This only came to light after the trial judge had excluded evidence based on the government’s repeated insistence that there were no snipers. The Ninth Circuit summarized why withholding this evidence was so harmful to the Bundys’ ability to present a defense:

The defendants claim that the Bundys feared they were surrounded by heavily armed snipers. Keeping the defense from gathering as much evidence as possible to show that there was a reasonable basis to fear that snipers surrounded the property was itself harmful. Moreover, the Felix 302 actually refers to the BLM agent in the overwatch position as a “sniper.” Indeed, the Felix 302 uses both “tactical over watch position” and “sniper” to refer to the same agent. This was tangible documentation showing that the government’s own officials understood agents in overwatch positions to be equivalent to “snipers.” Even if the defendants had some other evidence of agents taking “overwatch” positions around the Bundy property, the Felix 302 supported their theory in ways that [documents provided earlier] did not. The Felix 302, therefore, adds credibility to the Bundys’ claims that they feared the presence of “snipers” and it should have been disclosed prior to trial. In sum, like the evidence regarding the camera, these documents could have helped the defense show that the defendants genuinely feared the presence of snipers—contradicting the allegations that the defendants intentionally lied about being surrounded by snipers to inflame supporters.

In the Ninth Circuit’s view, it was “preposterous and reckless” for the government to withhold this evidence:

Of particular concern is the government’s handling of evidence related to the presence of snipers. This was a hot-button issue. The term is evocative, rhetorically charged, and would have been a dog whistle for summoning members of private militias in ways that screaming “surveillance cameras!” would not. The government said the Bundys’ claim of “snipers” was “false” and “deceitful,” yet the government’s own documents referred to its agents as “snipers.” The government disputed the relevance of this information, fixating on the question of whether the officers in the “overwatch” were technically “snipers.” The district court had to remind the government that these were questions for the jury.

The failure to produce evidence regarding “snipers” was particularly troubling for the district court because, during the Tier 3 trial of other co-defendants, the district court prohibited testimony regarding the presence of snipers, based on the government’s assurances that there were no snipers involved in the impound operation. The district court even removed a testifying defendant from the stand in that trial because the defendant kept stating that snipers were present. The district court was understandably exasperated when evidence came to light in this trial, showing that the government referred to its agents as “snipers.”

In short, the government had to know the import that any evidence regarding snipers, or agents who looked and functioned like snipers, would have in this case. Nevertheless, it withheld a slate of information bolstering the claim that the defendants could have had a reasonable basis for believing there were snipers in the area.

The court also found that the government improperly made “a conscious choice” to withhold a series of “threat assessments” that had downgraded earlier concerns about the threat posed by Bundy, which the defense could have used to challenge the necessity for a “militarized” response. The Ninth Circuit concluded that the trial judge had acted reasonably by dismissing the case rather than just ordering a new trial, given the “need to impose a sanction that will serve to deter future prosecutions from engaging in the same misconduct as occurred here”:

We note the government’s failure to acknowledge and confess any wrongdoing during the course of this case—especially as to material misrepresentations to the district court about the presence of snipers. Rather than accepting responsibility, the government blamed the defense for not requesting more specific information. Even in its motion for reconsideration, the government continued to maintain that it never had an obligation to turn these documents over and that any omission on the government’s part was the fault of the defendants for not doing a better job of showing why this information was relevant. Only on appeal has the government admitted that it should have turned these documents over.

Book: Liberty Rising: The Murder of LaVoy Finicum

From Christian Patriots comes this article on the search for justice Liberty Rising: The Murder of LaVoy Finicum

My father bleeding out in the snow is only one small part of this story. His murder was the result of a hyped up orchestration of state and federal law enforcement in reaction to a falsified threat assessment. Many ask, “How can this even happen?”

We are starting this discussion across the country with elected officials. The idea of reforming weaponized labels is underway. We have developed a four part documentary series to use as a tool to start these difficult but necessary discussions. We are introducing people to the idea of the need for training in applied civics. My book, Liberty Rising: One Cowboy’s Ascent was written to help fund the process of our case.

We have great momentum working with the same legal team that helped bring about the 2016 Oregon occupation acquittals and the 2018 Nevada Bundy mistrial. Their work uncovered both agent and bureau acts of misconduct that had been going unchecked for decades. The information gathered from both the Oregon and Nevada trials are crowning jewels for our case, not to mention the uncovered dubious decisions during the shooting of my father, which was revealed in trial of the acquitted FBI agent.

We move forward in faith and hope that our efforts will continue to uncover and correct misconduct.

Our civil complaint, demand for jury trial in the district of Oregon was filed January 25th, 2018. Soon our deposition and subpoena process will begin. We very much look forward to this discovery process. While we understand each deposition and subpoena will demand time, toil, faith, hope, and, yes, more money, we look forward to holding out-of-control government agents, bureau agents, and organizations accountable. We also anticipate spearheading a change in the current trend of weaponized words.

By Thara Tenney

Christian Patriots

Motion to Reconsider US Gov’t v Bundys Denied

On July 3rd, 2018, Judge Navarro denied the prosecution’s request to reconsider January’s dismissal with prejudice.

Judge Gloria Navarro ruled today that the prosecutors will not get another chance to retry Cliven Bundy, his sons, Ammon and Ryan, and Ryan Payne.

The case against these four defendants was dismissed with prejudice on January 8, 2018 by Navarro, citing prosecutorial misconduct and several Brady violations of withholding evidence.

In her 11-page ruling, Navarro addressed the multiple reasons the prosecution cited for her to reconsider her ruling. She repeats much of the language from her original dismissal in which she harshly admonished the prosecution, headed by Steven Myhre, for their “flagrant misconduct”.

Additionally, the judge referenced the previous trials, in which Todd Engel and Greg Burleson were convicted.

The claim that the Government did not need to provide evidence of provocation, intimidation, and self-defense is outrageous given that this defense was at issue in the previous trials,

Some of the wording in the ruling is quite interesting, as it refers to the specific charges of which Engel and Burleson were convicted:

Because some evidence pertaining to perceived government misconduct is relevant to defending against Counts Five, Twelve, and Sixteen, and because the possibility of a self-defense theory exists, the Court finds that it did not err in finding that evidence of this nature amounted to a Brady violation and should have been disclosed.

Burleson was sentenced to 68 years for his role in the standoff. Engel is scheduled to be sentenced on July 19th and is facing a possible 20 years in prison. Multiple motions have been filed on their behalf requesting relief from the convictions based on the Brady violations by the government.

The government is desperately trying to keep the convictions from being overturned, yet cannot wipe the taint of their actions from the Judge’s eyes…

You can read the decision by clicking here.

“LaVoy-Dead Man Talking” Screening in Prosser, June 26th, 2018

The Center for Self Governance created the Governed v Governing Documentary series to detail and document the dramatic stories of our fellow countrymen trying to Keep the Republic.

In Part I: The Bundy Standoff you will see a Nevada Ranching family and supporters from around the country face off with 100s of extremely well armed federal agents. Learn why they were there and how the story ended.

In Part II: LaVoy – Dead Man Talking you will meet LaVoy Finicum, the Arizona Rancher who was shot 3 times in the back on a remote Oregon Highway January 26, 2016. Learn what drove him to go to Oregon and get out of his truck in hail of bullets.

In Part III: The Final Verdict – Oregon & Nevada Trials you will meet all those imprisoned for the 2014 Bundy Standoff and the 2016 Oregon Occupation and find out how their trials ended!

The Center for Self Governance will be screening the first part of LaVoy – Dead Man Talking in the Patriot Barn at 22202 N Hinzerling, Prosser, WA on Tuesday, June 26th, 2018 at 7 pm. Jeanette Finicum, wife of LaVoy, will be in attendance to answer questions from the audience. L