OPINION — After a mistrial was declared on Dec. 20 of last year in the government’s case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan and militia organizer Ryan Payne, one can’t help but wonder what comes next.
When Judge Gloria Navarro steps into courtroom 7C at the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas on Monday morning, there are a number of things that may happen.
Navarro may choose to grant the motions of the defense to dismiss the government’s case with prejudice. This would effectively remove the possibility of the Bundys being tried on these charges ever again.
She may yield to the prosecution’s insistence that multiple violations of due process in withholding key evidence from the defense during discover was a minor misstep and that she should proceed with scheduling a new trial.
Or Navarro may choose to kick the can down the road by deferring any decision until after the Department of Justice has finished investigating alleged prosecutorial misdeeds regarding withholding of evidence.
It’s anyone’s guess which course the judge will take.
Of those members of the American public who are either aware of or even actively following the Bundy family’s saga, a shocking number still believe that cows, grazing rights and public lands are the central issue. In reality, they are merely the most visible symptoms of a much larger problem that must still be addressed. That problem is how to restrain and restore an overreaching, virtually unaccountable government to its legitimate limits.
The Bundy case has simply brought into the light of day just how far federal bureaucrats are willing to go to impose their will upon the American public. Can you recall ever hearing of such an abusive, militarized provocation being undertaken for the purpose of addressing an unpaid fee?
As horrific as the past several years have been for members of the Bundy family and the other defendants, the truths that emerged from hiding in this last trial are providing some long overdue vindication for the stand they’ve taken.
What kind of legitimate government would seek to destroy the livelihoods of ranchers and other producers for purposes that don’t involve objectively provable harm or criminal activity? This question pertains to more situations than the one involving Cliven Bundy.
Federal bureaucrats have sought to separate ranchers from their essential water and grazing rights through regulatory technicalities that reduce their grazing allotments to the point that they can no longer claim the rights they own through use.
A question worth asking is who stands to gain those water rights once they have been wrested from the ranchers. If the answer is a government entity, whether state or federal, then one has to wonder if the ability to write regulations isn’t being used in a despicably self-serving manner.
The true face of bureaucratic power minus any real accountability has been revealed in the United States versus the Bundys.
Would a government that legitimately represents the interests of the people allow its functionaries to threaten peaceful families at gunpoint, to deploy snipers and an anti-terrorist SWAT team around their home and to surveil and intimidate them when they posed no threat? Would it seek to steal – and in some cases destroy – their personal property all the while daring them to do something about it?
Would legitimate authority conspire to harm people just to show them who’s in charge. Would it joke and laugh about who to shoot first? Would it deliberately seek to provoke a deadly confrontation after being told to de-escalate by sheriff’s deputies who were – finally – acting as peace officers?
Would government that exists to protect our rights to life, liberty and property choose to lie about and misrepresent those who stood up to or resisted its encroachments? Would it falsely accuse them of overblown charges that could result in prison sentences lasting several lifetimes?
Would a legitimate government allow such individuals to freely roam about society for two years if they posed an authentic threat to the public? Would it roll them up in SWAT raids and incarcerate them for more than 600 days without pretrial release based upon lies and exaggerations it told about the threat they may pose?
Would it deceive and withhold evidence that favors those it is accusing and openly mock them in court when they are seeking to defend themselves? We already know the answer to many of these questions is a resounding yes.
The bigger question that must yet be answered is how will we correct this official misbehavior?
Whether the Bundy case is dismissed with prejudice or if it goes back to trial and the jury acquits – a strong likelihood based on the demeanor of the last jury – the problem of overreaching government remains.
Any solution to this problem starts with the question: Whose interests are being served?
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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