Bundy Defendants Get More Discovery Time

LAS VEGAS (CN) – Jailed Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and several co-defendants will get more time to examine discovery materials before their trial begins on Feb. 6, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen ordered the federal government to make available the investigative reports, summaries and other discovery items which defendant Ryan W. Payne sought, and to provide them more than 30 days before the trial starts.

Payne is among the 17 defendants facing up to 16 felonies each from the April 2014 standoff with the Bureau of Land Management, which sought to collect cattle Bundy had grazed illegally on federal land, without paying grazing fees, for years.

Bundy and his sons, Ammon and Ryan, and six other co-defendants, each filed joinders to Payne’s motion, which Leen granted.

Payne is charged with 16 crimes, including conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, two counts of assault on a federal officer, four counts of use of a firearm in a crime of violence, three counts of interstate travel in aid of extortion, two counts of threatening a federal officer, and three counts of obstruction of justice.

Payne sought an order creating a deadline for the government to disclose all the discovery it intends to use in its prosecution of him and the 16 other defendants.

Payne particularly sought all police and investigative reports relating to the 16 charges he and his co-defendants face.

Payne said the government has disclosed several reports and documents, but with a large number of potential witnesses for the prosecution, Payne wants the material released 90 days before the trial, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 6.

He also wants the government to provide any summaries it intends to use, evidence favorable to the defense, law enforcement personnel files and other files pertaining to witnesses.

The federal government said Payne did not meet and confer with it on modifying the court’s case management order, and said his motion did not provide the required certification illustrating his efforts to meet and confer.

Prosecutors said Payne refused to participate in any case management discussions, and opposed the government’s efforts to have it designated a complex case.

The government said that Payne on one hand claimed the case is simple, but now asks the court to order it to turn over information 90 days before trial.

Payne agreed that he did not meet and confer on the case management schedule, but said he is not seeking to modify the case management order or determine whether the defense is entitled to any particular discovery.

He said he merely asked the court to set deadlines for discovery already discussed in the case management order and matters not addressed by the case management order, and to ban admission of evidence that does not conform to case management deadlines.

Payne says if the government does not designate experts until 60 days before trial, he won’t have time to assess the need for rebuttal experts.

Judge Leen said Payne and the co-defendants joining his motion should have met and conferred with the government before filing the motion. However, the government now proposes that trial be held in three phases, starting Feb. 6.

Under this proposal, defendants would be grouped and tried in one of three separate trials in February, May and August, rather than trying all 17 defendants at once, Leen wrote in the Nov. 22 order.

Leen said the court already has advised that the case is too complex to hold a single trial. She granted Payne’s motion by establishing discovery deadlines of no later than Jan. 6 for expert disclosures and Dec. 5 and Dec. 6 for those defendants who will proceed to trial on Feb. 6.