Lawyer: Nevada rancher Bundy to fight federal lands ruling

Ken Ritter Associated Press
Thursday, April 11, 2019

LAS VEGAS — A lawyer for rancher and states' rights figure Cliven Bundy said Wednesday he will appeal a Nevada judge's terse dismissal of Bundy's request for a declaration that the federal government has no jurisdiction over public land in the state.

Washington-based attorney Larry Klayman said the Nevada Supreme Court should be as upset as him that Clark County District Court Judge Jim Crockett derided Bundy's claim as "fundamentally flawed" and "delusional."

"It shows bias and prejudice," Klayman told The Associated Press, adding that judges aren't allowed to demean litigants.

He said he wants to take the Bundy lands case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Crockett's ruling allowed the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity to enter the case and dismissed Bundy's lawsuit as having "no merit."

"It is painfully obvious that the claims asserted by Bundy ... rest upon a fundamentally flawed notion advanced by Bundy since 1998 regarding ownership of federal public lands," Crockett wrote. "It is simply delusional to maintain that all public land within the boundaries of Nevada belongs to the state of Nevada."

The judge sided with attorneys for the conservation group who wrote that Bundy lost three previous efforts in federal courts to win the same legal argument.

“Federal and state courts have unanimously and clearly rejected all of Cliven Bundy’s nonsensical conspiracy driven legal theories,” Center for Biological Diversity chief Kierán Suckling said Wednesday. “He’s just driven by a desire to steal public land away from all Americans, and is using nut job legal theories as an excuse.”

Klayman maintained that Bundy’s state court case, filed last August, was different from his federal cases because President Barack Obama’s creation of Gold Butte National Monument next to Bundy’s property affects the rancher’s ability to graze cattle.

Bundy’s losses in federal court in his decades-long dispute with the government over grazing fees led to court orders for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to collect Bundy cattle from the Gold Butte area.

A roundup in April 2014 was stopped by armed ranchers and self-declared militia members who confronted armed federal agents near Bunkerville, 80 miles (129 kilometers) northeast of Las Vegas.

Federal prosecutors cast that confrontation as an insurrection against the U.S. authority. Bundy, four sons and 14 other defendants were arrested in 2016.

Most of the men from 11 states spent nearly two years in federal custody awaiting trial on charges that could have gotten them decades in prison for conspiracy, threatening and assaulting federal officers, firearm charges and obstruction.

Charges were dismissed in January 2018 against Bundy, two of his sons and a Montana militia leader after U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro in Las Vegas found flagrant misconduct by federal prosecutors who failed to fully share evidence with defendants and their lawyers.

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