LAS VEGAS, Jan 8 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday dismissed the criminal case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and three other men on charges stemming from an armed 2014 standoff with federal law enforcement officers over a cattle grazing rights dispute.
U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the case “with prejudice,” meaning that Bundy, two of his sons and a militia member will not face another trial.
Navarro, who declared a mistrial last month, cited prosecutors’ multiple withholding of evidence from defense lawyers and other evidence violations in dismissing the case.
She told a packed courtroom in Las Vegas that the violations prevented a fair trial and amounted to prosecutorial misconduct.
Bundy family members wept in the spectators’ section of the court after the ruling. Prosecutors appeared stunned by Navarro’s rebuke.
The 2014 revolt at the heart of the trial was sparked by a court-ordered roundup of Bundy’s cattle by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, after Bundy had refused for two decades to pay fees to graze his herds on federal property.
Hundreds of supporters, many of them armed, rallied at his ranch in a show of force to demand the return of his impounded livestock.
The case has galvanized right-wing militia groups challenging federal authority over vast tracts of public lands in the Western United States.
(Reporting by John Smith, Writing by Ian Simpson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)