Perspectives: The Bundy trial, symptom of a much larger problem

Image by SonerCdem / iStock / Getty Images Plus; St. George News

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.


Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • chris keele January 8, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Bryan, Good job on informing and reminding us of this very important event that is transpiring right in our backyard, I have been watching the outcome of this legal battle with great interest, I don’t think most of the public realizes that the U.S. Government controls 85% of the land in Nevada and 65% of the land in Utah and millions of acres in the western part of our Country, and when there is a disagreement on grazing fees or the use of the land our ( superior’s ) choose to put there trained snipers in over watch positions and manhandle the Bundy Family supporters and set up 1st Amendment zones with crime scene tape in case you want to air your grievance to these kinds of jackbooted,heavy handed, tactics or arbitrarily shoot the Bundy Family cattle as they wish. I wish every citizen would take the time to find and watch a video that was filmed near the Malheur National Wildlife on 12 January 2016, where these same types of F.B.I. mercenaries armed to the teeth, sneer and taunt as they (discuss the terms of surrender) with the Idaho 3% group that went to Oregon to try and intervene in this standoff before it was too late,it was close, but the Oregon State Troopers and F.B.I. still managed to lure some of the protesters out to a supposed meeting with a Sheriff in a neighboring community, where they set up the ambush in which they shot Lavoy Finicum down in cold blood, and the public needs to look into why the Bundy’s were in Oregon in the first place, look at the wrongful imprisonment of the Hammond Family there that led up to these events. Check it out people, and be more informed.

    • dons8120 January 8, 2018 at 2:24 pm

      What news are you watching? Seen the video and I would have made the same call. Stop the brain washing over at Fox News.

      • Utahguns January 8, 2018 at 4:10 pm

        Obama, Lynch and Holder…..
        These misfit clowns are your reasons the gov’t never had a case from the beginning.
        These miserable excuses for public servants are the main reasons for the racial divide that exists today.

  • chris keele January 8, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    To anyone that watched this execution take place, there were rifle rounds coming into the truck as Lavoy’s truck approached the barricade vehicles and continued after He was shot,there were two F.B.I. officers that later admitted to picking up spent rifle shell casings to hide them after they all denied the ambush. It is a matter of public record.

  • youcandoit January 8, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    I’m not sticking up for anyone except facts. 1. There’s 2 sides to every story.
    It’s public record. Mr. Bundy never paid the grazing fees and he did not abide by the BLM laws he had to many cattle destroying the land. awhile ago St George news reported a story about this Bundy mess. I’m tired of hearing about this It’s obvious neither of them are innocent yes the government should have handled it differently.

  • CHJ January 8, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    The real question being posed across this nation is whether or not we will live under the rule of law. So many blame the Federal Government, want to reopen the arguments posed at the time the Constitution was written and again when the Civil War was waged. The unoccupied Western lands never belonged to the States, it was owned by the Federal Government before these states came into existence. While there will always be Federal employees who operate inappropriately and perhaps even break the law, there have always been individuals who ignore the law of the land, believe that what they and their family have done under permit or by tradition for a number of years, creates a right to something. That is not true. Too many people are hiding behind twisted and misunderstood concepts to justify their failure to abide by the law of the land. An honest view of what occurred at the wash along I-15 can only conclude individuals violated federal law in their support of the Bundys as they threatened and harassed federal officers operating with full authority of the law. Perhaps conspiracy is unfounded but basic violation of other laws is clear. I continue to be disappointed by the naive claims of federal over-reach and inappropriate action while condoning threats of violence by armed militia. Where will our country truly be if most Americans chose to live outside the law of the land?

  • BEN January 8, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    Your title is encouraging, Brian, but you went off the track few paragraphs down. Your illustration, of the unarmed citizen, hat in hand, kneeling before the boot of the oppressor like Colin Kaepernick, is far from what actually happened. You really should be ashamed!

    My advice is to seek out some gray-haired folks and ask them about how to speak truth to power. In the 1960’s, when government ran amok, we made an almost superhuman effort to demonstrate peacefully, and to avoid even the suspicion of violence. Well, in some cases we might have damaged federal property (google “Catonsville 9”, for example). But no one waved guns. No vigilante militias invaded and occupied someone else’s property by force of arms with the intent to stay. No one signed a grazing contract and then refused to abide by it. And how did the government respond? Beatings, fire-hoses, gassing, dogs, and 4 bright young students shot down at Kent State University, any one of whom might have grown up to be the kind of level-headed statesman (or judge) that we sorely need today. But in the long run, it worked.

    You are absolutely right that the Bundy trial is a symptom of a much larger problem. The message is clear: threaten violence to get their attention, and you will get off scot free. I don’t think it takes a genius to see where this is going.

    • mesaman January 8, 2018 at 10:41 pm

      Your advice, like your navel, is more valuable to you than anyone else.

  • commonsense January 9, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    This nation is a conferation of states. State’s rights prevail over federal rights. How the hell did the feds get ownership of 70% of Utah lands? Nevada has even more federal land ownership.

    New York has 0.4% federal land ownership. This screams of politics at its worst.

    The Bundys have grazed cattle on pretty much worthless land for a century with legal permits.
    They developed a water infrastructure to support livestock. So, why would the Obama directed feds want to run them off their lands? Pure spite and politics.

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