Federal prosecutors said this week they want to retry the first group of defendants in the Bunkerville standoff case before moving forward with the trial of rancher Cliven Bundy and others charged as leaders of the 2014 armed protests.
Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre disclosed the decision, which still needs a judge’s approval, in a Wednesday court filing.
The proposed schedule update follows the mistrial declared last month when jurors deadlocked on 50 of the 60 counts against the first six men tried in the case. U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro set a new trial date of June 26 — the same day the second trial was scheduled to open in federal court in Las Vegas.
“After the jury reaches verdicts as to all of the Trial 1 defendants, the remaining trials will follow,” Myhre wrote in his recent filing.
The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on whether prosecutors plan to retry all or only some of the defendants in the first group.
Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict against any of the men on the two conspiracy counts, which represented the core dispute of the trial. The jury was hung on all 10 counts against four of the six defendants.
The government’s request to retry the first group before moving forward with any of the other defendants is sure to enrage the 71-year-old Bundy and others who are incarcerated while awaiting trial. Immediately after the mistrial, lawyers representing the men in the second group started filing motions voicing concerns about speedy trial rights.
Attorneys who represent Bundy and others in the second group submitted court filings requesting that their clients keep the June 26 trial date, even if that means lumping the two groups together. But Myhre rejected that suggestion in Wednesday’s filing.
“Bundy ignores the fact that this court grouped all the defendants into ‘tiers’ for the very purpose of ensuring that each was tried with those co-defendants who played similar roles in the unlawful action,” the lead prosecutor wrote.
Protests in Pahrump
Meanwhile, those awaiting trial have been clashing with corrections officers at the private detention center where they are being held.
Last week, Ryan Bundy, one of the rancher’s sons who likewise is charged as a leader, sued the federal government. In his lawsuit, he argued that strip searches were unconstitutional and said he was deprived of his rights when he was punished for failing to submit to them. Ryan Bundy said in the complaint that he has spent weeks in the “hole,” a colloquial term for solitary confinement.
Then, on Wednesday, supporters of the individual rights movement the Bundys espouse showed up to protest outside the Pahrump facility after they learned of an alleged incident involving brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy. Protesters, who have spent three days in Pahrump, claim the Bundys were punished after they argued with an official over a shirt that was left on Ammon Bundy’s bed.
“The jail will not tell me what’s going on without a subpoena,” said Ammon Bundy’s defense attorney, Dan Hill. “I’m definitely going to subpoena to find out what’s going on. He’s presumed innocent, and what they’re putting him through in there is interfering with trial preparation.”
Hill said Ammon Bundy is in solitary confinement, and that he has not spoken to him since the alleged incident occurred.
Contact Jenny Wilson at email@example.com or 702-384-8710. Follow @jennydwilson on Twitter.