LAS VEGAS (CN) — A federal judge said The Associated Press may intervene in the criminal case against Cliven Bundy et al. in Nevada “for the limited purpose of opposing the government’s motion for protective order.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen granted the motion to intervene by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Battle Born Media and The Associated Press, on July 1.
There is no right of access to criminal discovery or information known by the government that has not been released to the public, Leen said, but the newspapers are not looking for court proceedings or judicial records.
They merely “seek to weigh in on the propriety of a protective order sought by the government to limit disclosure of pretrial discovery.”
“Intervention is typically linked to the public’s presumptive right of access to court documents or records. In general, the press and the public have a qualified First Amendment right of access to pretrial hearings and documents,” Leen wrote. (Citations omitted.)
She said the indictment at issue came after a “decades-long series of disputes” between Bundy and the federal government over land use and a two-year investigation of the April 2014 standoff between Bundy, his supporters and the Bureau of Land Management.
The 19 defendants claim they were “peacefully protesting” the federal government’s attempt to confiscate Bundy’s cattle, and exercising their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
But the federal government claims Bundy and his co-defendants “planned and led an armed assault to threaten, intimidate and extort law enforcement officers from carrying out lawful orders of this court,” Leen wrote.
Bundy had grazed his cattle on federal land for years without paying grazing fees. The armed standoff made world headlines, and Bundy and his supporters have repeatedly, and publicly, accused the government, and courts, of being “corrupt.”
“This court has been accused in documents on file in this case, and elsewhere, of being ‘corrupt’ and doing the bidding of members of the executive and legislative branches, including Nevada’s senior senator and the president of the United States,” Leen wrote.
“As the Second Circuit has eloquently written, ‘[t]ransparency is pivotal to public perception of the judiciary’s legitimacy and independence.’ Federal judges are not elected. We claim legitimacy not by election, but by reason. The Constitution grants the federal judiciary ‘neither force nor will, but merely judgment.’ The Court finds that allowing intervention will promote transparency and the integrity of the judicial proceedings in this case. The Court will therefore grant the Amended Motion to Intervene for the limited purpose of opposing the Government’s Motion for Protective Order.” (Citations omitted.)
Leen told the intervenors to file separate oppositions and exhibits.
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