Saving the Wild Horses via the Court Room
Two important lawsuits will be heard by Judge Larry Hicks in Reno, Nevada on November 16, 2010.One of the hearings will be on the Motion for Temporary and Injunctive Relief in the Silver King, NV wild horse round up filed by the Plaintiff, Laura Leigh against the Bureau of Land Management, Interior Dept. and the Nevada State Director of the BLM. The Plaintiff’s Response to the court on BLM’s responses to the Motion was filed on October 12, 2010.
This lawsuit is based 100% on violations to First Amendment rights. It directly challenges, the Defendants’ unconstitutional prior restraints on the Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights by denying her reasonable access to wild horse roundups and related activities, to observe and report on all activities from capture, removal, processing, shipping, transportation, housing, and ultimate disposition of wild horses taken during the Silver King wild horse roundup operations (which the BLM euphemistically refers to as “gathers”). Laura Leigh, is a journalist and videographer whose work on wild horse issues has garnered her international attention.
“All I am trying to do is bring to the public a comprehensive story on the hands-on management of this National Treasure,” says Leigh “The difficulties I have had are absurd in a Democratic society.”
The government is basically controlling the content of what information reaches the public by precluding journalists who may portray them in an unflattering light.
The Second hearing will be on the (filed) August 11, 2010 Motion on Contempt of Court charges levied against the BLM which cites evidence of the Defendants’ violation of the court’s previous order to uphold the plaintiff’s First Amendment Rights to observe and report on the Bureau of Land Management in regard to the “gather” and removal of wild horses in Owyhee Herd Management Area. When Laura Leigh arrived in Owyhee, accompanied by two individuals, they were barred entrance to the roundup site, stopped by armed personnel on public land, and given the literal run around.
The Contempt of Court Motion also addresses the Defendants’ sworn testimony in open court that a ‘water emergency’ existed and that an ‘emergency’ roundup had to happen immediately, or horses would die. This testimony resulted in Judge Larry Hicks lifting the Temporary Restraining Order he had put in place to halt the Owyhee gather until he could hear legal arguments in the case.
Photos and documentation of the area have been filed showing that in fact the range appears exactly the same as it normally does this time of year, and nothing out of the ordinary was found by independent observation.
“Federal Judges have a tough job and a tight schedule,” said Grass Roots council Gordon Cowan, “Our country is based on very sound principals that ensure democracy continues and our case will be heard.”
Laura Leigh’s lawsuits are supported by Grass Roots Horse, a citizen action group for equine welfare issues and mustang advocacy. Copies of all legal filings may be seen at www.grassrootshorse.com