LAS VEGAS (AP) — Criminal charges have been dismissed against a Nevada rancher and his sons accused of leading an armed uprising against federal authorities.
Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ruled Monday in Las Vegas that federal prosecutors acted with willful disregard for constitutional due process rights of 71-year-old Cliven Bundy, sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy, and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne.
The judge last month declared a mistrial after a month of proceedings for the same reasons.
Navarro severely criticized prosecutors for failing to properly turn over evidence to their lawyers.
The collapse of the case is a stunning failure for the U.S. attorney's office in Nevada, where 19 co-defendants were indicted in early 2016 on charges including conspiracy, obstruction and threats and assault of federal agents in the April 2014 standoff outside Bunkerville.
Navarro's ruling after she declared a mistrial last month in proceedings against the Bundys and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne.
The judge signaled at that time that she might dismiss the case outright.
Navarro severely criticized prosecutors for what she called "willful" violations of due process rights of defendants, including failing to properly turn over evidence to their lawyers.
Her decision is sure to reverberate among states' rights advocates in the Western U.S., where the federal government controls vast lands that some people want to protect and others want used for grazing, mining and oil and gas drilling.