A judge in Las Vegas has decided to dismiss criminal charges against a Nevada rancher and his sons accused of leading an armed uprising against federal authorities in 2014. Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro signaled when she declared a mistrial last month that she might dismiss the case outright against 71-year-old Cliven Bundy, sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy, and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne. The judge severely criticized prosecutors for what she called "willful" violations of due process rights of defendants, including failing to properly turn over evidence to their lawyer. But she gave the government a chance to submit written documents opposing dismissal of all charges.
The tense armed standoff outside Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, stopped a federal Bureau of Land Management roundup of Bundy cattle from public land including what is now Gold Butte National Monument. Several gunmen among the protesters who had assault-style rifles were acquitted of criminal charges in two trials last year. Ryan and Ammon Bundy also were acquitted of federal criminal charges in Oregon after an armed occupation in early 2016 of a national wildlife refuge to demand the government turn over public land to local control. In Las Vegas, Navarro declared a mistrial Dec. 20, leaving Cliven Bundy as the only one of the four defendants still jailed after refusing the judge's offer of release to house arrest.
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