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High-powered attorney may assist cattle rancher in BLM dispute

Flanked by someone who could be their famous new lawyer, members of the embattled Bundy family plan to unveil possible legal action today in connection with the failed federal roundup of their cattle.

The Bundys announced late Wednesday that nationally known conservative public interest attorney Larry Klayman is meeting with rancher Cliven Bundy to discuss a response to the weeklong operation, which ended suddenly April 12 when federal authorities pulled out to avoid a violent confrontation with the family and their heavily armed supporters.

Klayman is expected to speak at a 1 p.m. news conference near the Bundy ranch 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

According to the release from the family, Klayman, state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and others will meet privately with the Bundys before publicly discussing who should be hauled into court over the roundup, which was launched after a federal court ordered Bundy to remove his livestock from public land or risk having them seized by the government for failing to pay grazing fees for the past 20 years.

Bundy has racked up an estimated $1.1 million in unpaid fees and other assessments.

Militia members and other supporters came to the ranch family’s defense once the roundup began.

Since it ended, the Bundys have received media attention around the world, from fawning treatment by conservative news organizations to ridicule on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” In a story Wednesday in the New York Times, Cliven Bundy was quoted questioning whether black people were better off as slaves, comments that drew swift condemnation from Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and others.

Among the Bundys’ possible targets for legal action are Sheriff Doug Gillespie, the BLM and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Klayman is best-known as the founder of Judicial Watch, a public interest law firm that filed more than a dozen lawsuits against the Clinton administration in the 1990s and later sued Vice President Dick Cheney for information on the White House’s energy task force.

Klayman later formed the far-right political advocacy group Freedom Watch.

The Bundys’ announcement comes on the heels of the latest federal court action in connection with the rancher’s fight with the government.

The federal judge who ruled in favor of the BLM last year issued an order late Tuesday denying any part in Bundy’s case for a Texas man authorities believe is tied to the anti-government “sovereign citizens” movement.

Senior U.S. District Judge Lloyd George said in his two-page order that Michael Joseph Kearns, a 72-year-old felon who lives in San Antonio, has no standing to intervene in the case.

George also ruled that his court has no jurisdiction in the case because it still is officially in the hands of a federal appeals court, which also ruled against Bundy.

Kearns is known as a self-styled legal adviser within the sovereign citizens movement. Members of the nationwide movement believe they are above the government’s jurisdiction and, among other things, not obligated to pay taxes.

Sovereign citizens have tried over the years to disrupt and overthrow the government and other forms of authority by using “paper terrorism” tactics, intimidation, harassment and violence, according to authorities.

In a telephone interview from San Antonio on Wednesday, Kearns said that he is among people in the United States who are “free, sovereign and independent.”

He described himself as a “self-taught paralegal” whose goal in the Las Vegas case is to “get the BLM to stop its action and leave Bundy alone.”

Kearns, who admitted that he spent 10 years in federal prison on a mail fraud conviction, was charged twice in San Antonio last year with filing fraudulent court documents.

On April 16, he filed a motion in the Bundy case seeking to overturn George’s July ruling that paved the way for the BLM to seize the rancher’s cattle.

The motion, dubbed “emergency intervention of necessity to protect the land and people of the United States,” included jargon and phrases common to the sovereign citizens movement.

But George was not impressed.

“Kearns claims a right as one of the free, sovereign and independent people of the United States to represent the interests of the United States and remove this case to the Supreme Court for independent action,” George wrote. “No such status or right exists.”

Kearns, who has posted a copy of his motion on his website, said he plans to respond to George’s order denying it.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Find him on Twitter: @RefriedBrean.Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter @JGermanRJ.

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