A Mountain of Misdirection: Discovery in the Bundy Case
DEFENDANTS AND THEIR LAWYERS ARE TOLD THEY MUST KEEP THE DISCOVERY SECRET FROM THE PUBLIC—UPON PENALTY OF CONTEMPT OF COURT.
“Discovery” in the Bundy Case is reportedly so vast that it contains the texts of entire novels, and hundreds of pages of apparently irrelevant medical records, but did not reveal that FBI agent Charles Johnson was arrested last year, that Dan Love was under investigation, or that Greg Burleson was an FBI informant.
by Staff Writer August 10, 2017
“Discovery” in a court case refers to the evidence, exhibits and reports that one party intends to use to prove its case. In a typical criminal case, the government’s “discovery” contains the various police reports, photos and other exhibits that form the basis of a prosecution. Court rules generally require prosecutors to reveal their discovery to defendants within prescribed time limits.
But like other aspects of the Bunkerville, Nevada (‘Bundy Ranch’) case, the discovery is unusual in many ways. It is so vast that it cannot be delivered or stored in printed form. Defense attorneys say they are given passwords to government search engines which contain the discovery.
The Bundy case discovery is so massive that a west coast law firm has reportedly contracted to index and categorize the discovery. Although the discovery is reportedly machine-searchable, those who have access to it say it is difficult to navigate through.
As in many cases, defendants and their lawyers are told they must keep the discovery secret from the public—upon penalty of contempt of court. This is true even though the discovery is said to contain public documents and records. At least two news organizations, Battle Born Media and the Las Vegas Review Journal, have filed petitions to have some access to the secret discovery; but the court has denied each request.
Roger Roots, a paralegal who works for the Cliven Bundy defense team, told Redoubt News that the discovery is a “bucket of snakes.” Roots says he has typed search terms into the discovery search engine and randomly found the full texts of at least two entire novels. The novels, says Roots, seem to have nothing to do with the case. Roots said he has also randomly found hundreds of pages of children’s medical records that don’t appear to have anything to do with the case.
There are Court precedents such as Brady v. Maryland that require prosecutors to provide “exculpatory” evidence (meaning any evidence that tends to show defendants may be innocent) to defendants. There are also precedents requiring prosecutors to provide personnel records of government agents who may testify if the agents have previously been caught lying. Yet the discovery did not contain any reports of the investigation of Dan Love (in which Dan Love was found to be under an ethical cloud for obstruction and corruption). Defense lawyers found out about the Dan Love investigation on the internet.
Nor did the discovery contain information that FBI agent Charles Johnson (the agent behind the fake “Longbow Productions” documentary interviews) was arrested last year in Colorado. Defense lawyers found out about the arrest after The Intercept published a story on the topic. Charles Johnson had already testified in the first Bunkerville trial, and defendants were not able to discredit Johnson with the information.
Nor did the discovery contain any information that codefendant Greg Burleson has worked as a paid FBI informant. Defendants found out about this when Burleson’s lawyer cross-examined one of Burleson’s FBI handlers during trial. This may be significant because Burleson’s public statements were by far the scariest and most threatening statements made by any of the defendants, and it seems prosecutors intended to use Burleson’s bizarre statements as a means to convict the other defendants.