Bunkerville Retrial – First Week Wrap-Up
The retrial of four defendants is underway in Las Vegas, Nevada. Eric Parker, Steven Stewart, Scott Drexlar and Ricky Lovelein are fighting for their lives for the second time. A mistrial was declared by Judge Gloria Navarro in April of this year when the jury could not reach a unanimous agreement as to the guilt of these four men.
The main charges go to Conspiracy between the defendants, and others, as to the purpose of the Bunkerville Standoff in April 2014. The Federal Government, lead by Prosecutor Steven Myhre, are trying to prove there was a conspiracy against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) when citizens around the country rallied to stop the BLM from taking the cattle from the Bundy Ranch.
Finished with the first week of testimony, this retrial has taken a few bizarre twists.
The prosecution is obviously concerned with their case. It is not a strong case, and this has been emphasized when Judge Gloria Navarro made the decision to allow the jurors the option of questioning each witness. Some of the questions that have come from the jurors indicate that there are those that do not quite believe the government’s narrative.
This is not a guarantee, or even a strong indication, of the case being won by the defense. However, leanings toward not believing the government at this early stage are a good sign.
The prosecution has mostly put BLM agents on the witness stand. These men testified to their fear of the men, women, and children in the wash on the day of the standoff. Some tears were even shed on the stand by these agents. However, the defense has been warned, and almost forbidden, from using emotional testimony.
The double standards of this case are blatant. This writer wonders how Judge Navarro is still presiding over this retrial and not having been forced to recuse herself?
Navarro has also warned the defense that they must keep the scope of their case within a 40 minute time period. From about noon to 12:40 on April 12, 2014 is the time frame the defense attorneys can discuss, and only that for the specific actions the judge believes are pertinent to the trial.
Navarro has scaled back the defendants rights tremendously. They are forbidden from discussing why they went to Nevada in the first place. They are not allowed to bring up their constitutionally-protected rights of free speech, etc. The US Constitution is not a defense, so we are told.
On the flip side, Navarro is encouraging, and even helping, the prosecution win their case. She is allowing them the leeway to present their version of the past 20+ years leading up to the standoff. She is allowing them to put Ryan Payne on trial here, though he is not a defendant in this round.
She is allowing the emotional testimony and biased opinion testimony from the government’s witnesses. Again, the defense has been strictly constrained from the same.
A witness last week, Alex Ellis, who was brought in to introduce the videos of Michael Flynn (deceased), was not cross examined. When his time came, prosecutor Myrhe announced that Ellis was at the urgent care clinic.
The jurors do not appear to be all smiles and good cheer for the prosecution. There have been two jurors that have fallen asleep due to the boring monologues thus far. Additionally, there have been so many sidebars that the judge brought in a bowl of candy to pacify the jurors during such times. However, Navarro seemed to slap them later when she thought they were taking the candy out of the courtroom at the end of the day. It seemed a bit nit-picky to this writer.
This case is very high profile, even without the main players from the Bundy family. Judge Navarro is under intense scrutiny. It is a wonder that she has not been admonished by someone to stop the antics in the courtroom that she is not only allowing, but assisting with.
But, one must remember, she is a Presidential appointee. She was appointed to bench for life. She cannot be fired in the normal sense of the word. She cannot be recalled the way an elected judge can. Does she have a boss? Does she have someone she must answer to? These are questions that many people should be asking, and in very loud voices.
Photo; Protesters outside Lloyd George Federal Building during the first Bunkerville standoff trial on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye