“ANOTHER DEBACLE FOR FEDERAL PROSECUTORS IN THE CLIVEN BUNDY CASE”
Las Vegas U.S Attorneys Dan Bogden and Steve Myhre’s Chickens Coming Home To Roost in Bundy Case.
Since Harry Reid – in an act of politically motivated vengeance – orchestrated the reappointment of previously fired U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden by President Obama in 2001, Nevadans have endured an abysmal track record of failure and unethical conduct by their U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The embarrassments have continued under Bogden’s longtime right hand yes-man, Acting U.S Attorney Steve Myhre the lead prosecutor in the Bundy fiasco.
The merits of the Bundy case aside, it will almost assuredly be dismissed with prejudice for the numerous willful discovery violations found by the presiding judge, Gloria Navarro. The debacle came under the scrutiny of the Attorney General of the United States almost immediately after Judge Navarro declared yet another Bundy mistrial on December 20. The case has the potential to reverberate throughout U.S. jurisprudence.
As most lawyers know, bad cases – and bad conduct – make bad law.
A mere year and half into the Bogden/Myhre era, in March, 2003, Las Vegas Review Journal columnist John Smith questioned why a “parade” of the top prosecutors in their office had already bid them farewell:
Why indeed. Case after disastrous case, allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, scathing judicial opinions, complaints of sexual discrimination, and numerous examples of basic disloyalty followed.
One published Ninth Circuit Court opinion, authored by Judge Steven Trott (former Associate Attorney General of the United States) after a series of reversals specifically found “a lapse of supervision, both at the trial and appellate level”… and an embarrassing “management failure”. (U.S. v Weatherspoon)
Meanwhile the four escapees went on to serve almost 60 collective years – and counting – doing the people’s business, with resounding success. Three are supervisors in major U.S. Attorneys Offices from East Coast to West.
In the wake of the Bundy debacle, the Associated Press reported that “Big federal cases (in Las Vegas) have collapsed in the last 15 years over prosecutors’ failure to share evidence with defendants”.
The AP article went on to quote a local Las Vegas attorney: ” ‘There’s been a pattern of failure to turn over potentially exculpatory material for more than a decade,’ said Robert Draskovich’, a defense lawyer involved in a $14 million securities fraud case that was dismissed in 2006 and the failed racketeering prosecution that year against 42 Hells Angels members.”
15 years …that’s just about when the aforementioned Assistant U.S. Attorneys canceled their cruise on the Bogden/Myhre Titanic.
“You can bet that, suddenly, (U.S. Attorney General Jeff) Sessions is asking, ‘Who’s our U.S. attorney in Nevada?'” Rory Little, the former Northern District of California Appellate Chief and a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, said Friday.
“This is every prosecutor’s nightmare,” said Kent Robinson, a retired federal prosecutor who served six years as Chief of the Criminal Division in Oregon’s U.S. Attortney’s Office.
Ian Bartrum, a constitutional law professor at University of Nevada Las Vegas, said he’s struggled to understand what led to the prosecutors’ “tone deafness” to their obligations. “It’s either startling incompetence or striking arrogance,” he said.
The hard working prosecutors and support staff of the Las Vegas U.S. Attorneys Office, and the public they serve, deserve far better leadership.
It is therefore encouraging to hear that the Attorney General has ordered an investigation. Hopefully the reputation of a once formidable prosecutors office can somehow be restored.