9th Cir. Says Cliven Bundy Won’t Get Lawyer of Choice

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By Lance J. Rogers

Nov. 1 — A divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Oct. 28 ruled that conservative gadfly and activist Larry Klayman can’t represent Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher being prosecuted for his high-profile armed showdown with federal authorities over grazing rights ( Bundy v. United States Dist. Court (In re Bundy) , 2016 BL 360227, 9th Cir., No. 16-72275, 10/28/16 ).

The court upheld Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro’s decision to reject Klayman’s application for temporary admission, citing his lack of candor about his disciplinary record and a habit of going after judges personally.

Navarro ruled that Klayman can’t join Bundy’s defense team until he proves that pending disciplinary proceedings against him in the District of Columbia have been resolved in his favor.

“Bundy is entitled to a fair trial, defended by competent, vigorous counsel of his choosing,” Judge Jay S. Bybee said, writing for the 2-1 majority. “But this right to such counsel does not extend to counsel from outside the district who has made it a pattern or practice of impeding the ethical and orderly administration of justice.”

‘Lack of Respect.’

The district court had ample cause to rebuff Klayman because he misrepresented the status of the proceedings before the D.C. bar and because he “failed to disclose numerous cases” in which “he has been reprimanded, denied pro hac vice status, or otherwise sanctioned for violating various local rules,” the court said.

Bybee also said that Klayman “demonstrated a lack of respect for the judicial process by suing the district judge personally.” Klayman alleged that Navarro, President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and others were engaged in a conspiracy to violate his civil rights, Bybee said.

Judge William A. Fletcher joined Bybee’s opinion.

Judge Ronald M. Gould dissented, arguing that Bundy’s right to a lawyer of his choosing outweighs the concerns about professional decorum and that Klayman’s apparent willingness to engage in “sharply confrontational lawyering” might be just what this high-profile case calls for.

Gould further noted that Klayman had a letter from legal ethics expert Professor Ronald Rotunda of Chapman University School of Law, stating that Klayman hadn’t committed any offense meriting discipline in the D.C. matter.

Bundy and his codefendants face more than a dozen federal charges arising from a standoff with federal agents who tried to remove Bundy’s cattle from public lands for his failure to pay grazing fees.

Bundy’s sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were found not guilty Oct. 27 on charges they conspired to impede federal officers by force, threat or intimidation when they and other armed militants seized the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Klayman, of Washington, D.C., argued on his own behalf. The U.S. Attorney’s Office represented the government.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lance J. Rogers in Washington at LRogers@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bna.com

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