Judge says 4 month trial ex­pected in Bundy stand­off

Imperial Valley Press - - NEWS -

LAS VE­GAS (AP) — Trial could take four months for Ne­vada rancher and states’ rights fig­ure Cliven Bundy, his two sons and one other co-de­fen­dant ac­cused of lead­ing a self-styled mili­tia to pre­vent fed­eral agents from re­mov­ing Bundy cat­tle from pub­lic range­land, a fed­eral judge told prospec­tive ju­rors on Mon­day.

Jury se­lec­tion alone could take sev­eral days, Chief U.S. District Judge Glo­ria Navarro told 49 peo­ple dur­ing a first day of ques­tion­ing about their back­grounds, opin­ions and abil­ity to im­par­tially de­cide whether Bundy, sons Ryan and Am­mon Bundy, and co-de­fen­dant Ryan Payne of Mon­tana con­spired to lead an armed up­ris­ing against the gov­ern­ment. Sim­i­lar-sized groups of prospec­tive ju­rors are due for ques­tion­ing through Thurs­day.

“Al­though they are ac­cused, they start trial with a clean slate,” the judge said of the de­fen­dants.

Court pro­ceed­ings be­gan with se­cu­rity ex­cep­tion­ally tight in­side the fed­eral court­house in Las Ve­gas, and in the court­room where ob­servers are banned from hav­ing elec­tronic de­vices in­clud­ing cell­phones. A small side­walk protest out­side echoed more ro­bust demon­stra­tions or­ga­nized by Bundy back­ers dur­ing two pre­vi­ous tri­als.

Those pro­ceed­ings ended in April and Au­gust with pros­e­cu­tors fail­ing to gain full con­vic­tions of six de­fen­dants who had as­sault-style weapons with them dur­ing an April 2014 stand­off in­volv­ing Bundy back­ers, pro­test­ers and fed­eral agents near the Ne­vada town of Bunkerville.

The con­fronta­tion stemmed from Cliven Bundy’s re­fusal to pay graz­ing fees to a fed­eral gov­ern­ment that he main­tains has no au­thor­ity over pub­lic land, in­clud­ing what is now Gold Butte Na­tional Mon­u­ment, where he says Bundy fam­ily cows have grazed since the early 1900s.

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