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Cliven Bundy Trial|Set Back to 2017

LAS VEGAS (CN) — The Nevada federal trial of ranchers Cliven, Ammon and Ryan Bundy and 15 others accused of breaking federal laws during an April 2014 standoff has been pushed back to Feb. 6, 2017.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy A. Leen on Tuesday granted a request to cancel the May 2 trial date, due to scheduling conflicts with Oregon Federal Courts.

"Failure to grant the request would likely result in a miscarriage of justice," Leen wrote.

The case at issue involves the armed standoff between the Bundys and their supporters and federal wildlife agents. Ammon Bundy refused for years to pay grazing fees, claiming the federal government has no power to charge him for using federal land. After armed supporters showed up on the federal land in Nevada in 2014, the government gave up, for fear of violence.

That was before and separate from the takeover of federal buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon this year, for which Ammon Bundy and others also face charges.

The Bundys claim the Constitution does not give the federal government authority to own or manage public lands. Prosecutors disagree, and have charged the Bundys and their supporters with up to 16 felonies for each of the 19 defendants.

Charges include conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, conspiring to impede or injure a federal officer, assaulting a federal officer, obstructing justice, extortion, and firearms violations.

If convicted, the government seeks criminal forfeiture of property totaling some $3 million, plus the cattle the Bundys stopped the Bureau of Land Management from rounding up two years ago.

In addition to postponing the Bundys' trial date, Leen designated the trial a complex case and set deadlines for pretrial motions and other proceedings. She gave federal prosecutors until May 6 to produce discovery evidence.

Prosecutors and 13 of the 19 defendants, including Cliven Bundy, asked for the complex case designation.

Leen said the case qualifies as complex due to the 16 felony counts against 19 defendants, the "voluminous" discovery, and the hundreds of potential witnesses.

She said more than 100 witness interviews have been done already, with more coming. The government will call 30 to 45 witnesses, and seven of the defendants face separate criminal charges in Oregon.

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