Two days after a federal judge suggested the possibility of a mistrial in the Bunkerville standoff case, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and a group of Nevada newspapers filed a motion to unseal trial documents discussed behind closed courtroom doors.
‘There is insufficient basis to maintain certain motions and transcripts under seal in this case and to continue to close hearings to the public,” the motion filed Wednesday evening states. “Sealing documents and closing hearings is inimical to this Country’s and this Court’s long tradition of open trials, guaranteed by both the First Amendment and common law — a right of access that is always important, but particularly critical in this case.”
Three weeks into testimony about the 2014 armed conflict, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro on Monday said government prosecutors did not provide evidence in a timely fashion to the defendants, including rancher Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and an independent Montana militiaman.
The judge released jurors for a week and then closed her courtroom to the public for a hearing with the defendants, their lawyers and prosecutors.
“The Bundy case is an important one to the people of Nevada, and the public has a right to know what is happening in the case, and why,” said lawyer Maggie McLetchie, who represents the Review-Journal and Battle Born Media, which publishes weekly newspapers in rural communities.
“Secret justice is no justice at all,” Review-Journal Managing Editor Glenn Cook said. “The federal system’s preference for closed doors and sealed documents has eroded public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the courts. Openness is the only way taxpayers can be sure they’re not funding a rigged game.”