Resolution supports legal rights of commissioner involved in ATV protest ride

SAN JUAN COUNTY – The San Juan County Commission approved a resolution last week supporting Commissioner Phil Lyman’s “right to due process and effective legal representation.”

Approved on May 19 in a 2-0 vote – Lyman did not vote – County Commissioners Bruce Adams and Rebecca Benally unanimously passed the resolution reiterating Lyman’s legal rights. The resolution stems from Lyman’s conviction earlier this month in federal court.

Lyman, along with blogger Monte Wells, was convicted of misdemeanor counts of conspiracy and driving motorized vehicles through public lands closed to vehicle use. The charges are connected to last year’s ATV protest ride though Recapture Canyon. Two other defendants in the case, Shane Marian and Franklin Holiday, were acquitted by the jury.

The Bureau of Land Management closed the canyon to ATV use in 2007 because of concerns the vehicles would damage archaeologically sensitive sites. Lyman and others organized an ATV protest ride through the canyon on May 10, 2014, that, Lyman’s defense argued, had the blessing of the BLM as long as it stayed on a preexisting maintenance road and didn’t deviate from it.

The BLM said permission had not been granted, and charges were eventually filed against Lyman and the others.

The resolution, titled “A resolution of the Board of Commissioners of San Juan County, Utah supporting Commissioner Phil Lyman’s right to legal due process and effective legal representation,” was drafted by Mark Ward, legal counsel for the Utah Association of Counties upon the request of Commissioner Bruce Adams. The County Commission’s resolution primarily supports Lyman’s legal rights, and not the ATV protest ride.

A part of the resolution states:

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the San Juan County Board of Commissioners on behalf of San Juan County and its residents do fully support Commissioner Phil Lyman’s right of due process and effective legal representation to fully defend and litigate all claims and charges brought against him in connection with the May 10, 2014 ride on Recapture Canyon Road.

Adams said the resolution is meant to act as a means of helping gain access to the Utah Constitutional Defense Fund to help with the cost of legal counsel.

We felt he deserved the same legal rights as anyone else,” Adams said, adding that some members of the Utah Legislature and other county commissioners also felt having a resolution in this regard would help Lyman.

“Commissioner Lyman deserves good and effective legal representation through the balance of the trial court proceedings and appellate court proceedings in the (event) of an appeal,” the resolution states.

The resolution maintains, per the assertions of Lyman’s defense in court, that the protest ride was confined to the maintenance road and that no archaeological artifacts were damaged by it.

Lyman and Wells are scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on July 15. They face a possible year in jail each and up to $100,000 in fines, as well as hefty restitution costs for any archaeological sites or artifacts believed to have been damaged during the protest ride.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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1 Comment

  • native born new mexican May 28, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    This is a case of either we all stand together or we will each all hang separately. I believe that is a paraphrase of a quote from B. Franklin of the founding fathers.
    I stand with Mr. lyman and Mr. Wells in this. Go away Feds! The BLM just keeps stirring the barn yard fertilizer. They don’t seem to realize that if they keep this up they are going to have a very stinky mess on their hands and face and boots etc. You can only push people so far. There are lots of people living all over the rural western US and none of them like or respect BLM, Forest service, Park service and on down the alphabet list. Are the feds looking to cause real trouble or are they just not very smart? Did they learn nothing from the Bundy situation? In my home state of New Mexico the feds have faced fierce opposition to their actions. All over the west you hear story after story of people standing up to the feds and saying no more! People are not going to be driven out of their homes and off of their land. When your back is against the wall you have to do what you have to do so you best not push people that far.

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