Cliven Bundy’s ranch has been without its cattleman since he was detained upon arrival at Portland International Airport (PDX) last Thursday,
Just how long it will be before Cliven returns to his ranch will be determined in a hearing scheduled for Tuesday. A federal judge could either decide to release Bundy or keep him locked up to prevent him from skipping out on future court dates. His first appearance occurred a few days prior on February 11, reported KOIN 6.
Prosecutors are unlikely to be eager to allow Cliven to return back to Nevada. Although his arrest in the state of Oregon caused many to speculate it was due to the standoff headed by his sons at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the warrant for Bundy was actually related to charges from his own ranch standoff in 2014.
Daniel Bogden, the U.S. attorney for the district of Nevada, has declined to provide a motive for the delay, only revealing that the investigation is still ongoing. In fact, officials haven’t even publicly stated if a grand jury has been hearing evidence. Los Angeles’ Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson told Salt Lake Tribune that several factors could have influenced the decision not to make Cliven Bundy’s ranch the site of his apprehension.
“Negotiations, investigations, safety concerns, administrative concerns. There could be an ongoing investigation that could include a grand jury. They could have been waiting for the safest time, the most opportune time.”
Although many details of Cliven’s fate have been shrouded, the six charges he faces have been released to the public: conspiracy, assault on a federal officer, obstruction, weapon use and possession, extortion to interfere with commerce, and aiding and abetting. If those all hold up in court, Bundy could face life behind bars and more than $1 million in fines.
That’s in addition to the $1.1 million Cliven already owes for allowing cattle from his ranch to graze on public lands for decades. The official criminal complaint alleges that “more than 200 followers” were fomented to rise up against federal agents attempting to confiscate 400 cattle from the Bundy ranch.
Former Nevada U.S. attorney Richard Pocker told the Utah paper that getting a Cliven conviction will be extremely difficult. Although not linked to the Bundy ranch case, Pocker was able to score convictions for a similar group that also promised violence against Internal Revenue Service agents and a state judge in 1987. The problem, he says, is that most eyewitnesses were on scene in support of the rancher.
“They’ve probably been working up to this by talking to a lot of people who showed up as followers and making deals and trying to get cooperating witnesses. It’s really hard to get folks in these movements to cooperate with a grand jury.”
With the Oregon standoff at its end, it’s interesting to see focus shift back to the Cliven Bundy ranch. Located in southern Nevada near the town of Bunkerville, the homestead attracted massive waves of national attention when the family first claimed their standoff in 2014. His hearing is likely to be no less of a nationwide event, with many seeing the case and his subsequent arrest as emblematic of the debate over the scope of federal government.
[Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]