The Washington Times reports:
Navarro admonished government for “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct” and withholding evidence
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy could have spent the rest of his life in jail, but instead he walked away Monday a free man, the case against him and his sons thrown out over what the judge decried as “outrageous” misconduct by federal prosecutors.
In a stunning rebuke, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Gloria Navarro scolded the prosecution for violating the due process rights of the four defendants — Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and Ryan Payne — and dismissed the case “with prejudice,” meaning they cannot be retried on felony conspiracy and firearms charges stemming from the 2014 Nevada standoff.
“The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated,” said Judge Navarro, appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama in 2010, as reported by the Arizona Republic.
Wearing a cream-colored cowboy hat, the 71-year-old Bundy was greeted by cheers from dozens of well-wishers as he emerged from the federal courthouse in Las Vegas with his arm around his wife, Carol Bundy.
“How am I feeling? Well, I tell you, I’ve got my sweetheart beside me and I’m feeling pretty good,” said Mr. Bundy in video posted by KSNV-TV in Las Vegas. “I’m not used to being free, let’s put it that way. I’ve been a political prisoner for right at 700 days today.”
He insisted, “I come in this courtroom an innocent man, and I leave an innocent man.”
The dismissal brought a dramatic close to the high-profile case three weeks after Judge Navarro declared a mistrial, citing the prosecution’s willful withholding of evidence related to the armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management at the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville.
The decision also comes as the latest and most devastating in a series of failures for the Justice Department in its ongoing battle against the Bundys and their supporters in trials in Nevada and Oregon.
In October 2016, an Oregon jury acquitted Ammon and Ryan Bundy, as well as five others, on felony conspiracy and firearms charges from their 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Ammon and Ryan Bundy were also released on Monday, but Ryan Payne of Montana is expected to be transported to Portland, Oregon, for sentencing after entering a guilty plea for his role in the takeover.
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