Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Appellate Court Ruling in Leigh Case Sends BLM Observation Policy Reeling

Horseback Magazine

April 17, 2012
Ninth Circuit upholds Wild Horse “Win”
Photo of BLM Press Observation Area by Laura Leigh
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – In a body blow to federal land managers California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to overturn a ruling that grants access to the press during Bureau of Land Management “Gathers.”
Horseback learned of the court’s denial of a petition for a re-hearing of a case that sets government wild horse policy on its rump from a press release filed late Monday by plaintiff Laura Leigh. It is a major development in the press and public’s First Amendment rights to observe a government agency at work. The BLM has consistently kept its treatment and holding of wild horses under wraps.
BLM Chief Washington Spokesman Tom Gorey refused comment to Horseback on Tuesday morning after news of the Ninth Circuit ruling broke saying, “We have no comment.”
Leigh is credentialed as a reporter and photographer by Horseback Magazine and Horseback Online. The release said:
On Monday, April 16, 2012, the Ninth Circuit denied the Bureau of Land Management’s  (BLM) petition for rehearing in the ongoing saga to gain access to the Agencies handling of wild horses.
The original Appeal began with a notice filed on February 14, 2011 by attorney Gordon Cowan on behalf of Wild Horse Education founder Laura Leigh.
On February 14, 2012, exactly one year later, the Ninth Circuit published an opinion in Leigh’s favor.
As James Madison wrote in 1822, “a popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.”’9 WRITINGS OF JAMES MADISON 103 (G. Hunt ed. 1910)”
The Ninth Circuit added language to the Opinion after BLM made a petition for rehearing. The additional language notes that the Agency is not only held to the mandate to remove excess horses insuring that another roundup would occur, but that the Record of Decision on file for the “Silver King” roundup allows horses to be removed through 2013. The Amended opinion also states “With this amendment, the panel has voted to deny the petition for rehearing. Subsequent petitions for rehearing or rehearing en banc may not be filed.”
In another matter involving the lack of a Humane Care Standard before the federal District Court Leigh filed a Motion based on the decision granted in the Ninth Circuit. The BLM asked that the decision to deny relief stand as they were asking for a rehearing in the Ninth.
Today Leigh filed a Supplemental Brief to the “Humane Care” case.  The newly filed Brief notes that the Record of Decision for the “Triple B” gather, associated with the case, allows for removals through 2014. It also restates that according to BLM’s own calculations the scheduled original scheduled operation was never completed. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) granted to Leigh in August of last year, after a hearing in Federal District Court in Reno by Honorable District Court Judge Howard McKibben stopped the Triple B roundup due to inappropriate conduct at the roundup.
“Maybe after two years of trying to get to a conversation that actually deals with the issues at hand,” said Leigh “We have finally gotten there.”
Leigh has attempted to initiate dialogue with the BLM on the implementation of a Humane Care Standard. To date the Agency has not responded.
Both cases, and the documentation required to carry them forward, are supported by Wild Horse Education.
The bulk of funding for the case was provided  by the Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

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