Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wild Horse First Amendment Suit Heads for the Ninth Circuit

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Information provided by Wild Horse

Fight for Access Continues

Laura Leigh at Recent Antelope Complex Roundup ~ photo by R.T. Fitch
Wild Horse Education is continuing the legal battle for transparency against the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Plaintiff Laura Leigh has filed her notice of Appeal April 28, 2011 for the lawsuit that battles for transparency of the “hands-on” care of wild horses and burros.
“The current suit is NOT about observing a single roundup,” Leigh stated “The emergency relief requested extends to the repetitive battle for observation. We have a right to know how our money is spent in the hands-on management of our horses throughout the process. From roundup through holding and their ultimate disposition, wherever that may be, it is our right to know.”
On February 14, 2011 Plaintiff Laura Leigh filed for permission to appeal her First Amendment Rights case against the BLM to the Ninth Circuit Court. Her plea was based on the fact that there had been no ruling by the Federal Court in Reno to her request for Emergency Injunctive Relief in a case she had filed five months previous. Her request cited that “no action” in a case requiring emergency relief was an essential denial of her motion.
Judge Larry Hicks of the Federal District Court in Reno has now denied Leigh’s motion as “moot.” However in his ruling he does allow written testimony to stand in the record that had been objected to by the BLM.
“Basically this is good news,” said Leigh “What the Judge has now given me is an opportunity to present this case without first going through the process of gaining the Court’s permission. He has also ruled that the entire record of the case remains intact and that is vital to demonstrate the repetitive behavior that has precedent in higher Courts as not moot.”
The Appeal process has now began and the full brief will be filed shortly.
Leigh has spent the last year observing more roundups than any government personnel and bringing the public daily reports. The suit she brought earlier in the year, to the same Court over closure of public land and a roundup during the heat of summer for the Owyhee Herd Management Area, bore fruit for public observers. That suit found that closure of public land was a prior restraint to First Amendment Rights, creating the beginning of a daily observation platform for the public.
The doors to the Indian Lakes (Broken Arrow) facility were closed due to public outrage over images they saw.
“If the public is outraged by conduct,” Leigh said “it is an opportunity to clean up your act, not close the doors. That’s like a child that refuses to clean their room and instead locks their door.”
The full Brief is expected to be filed by Leigh and her attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno soon.
The legal efforts are supported solely by Wild Horse Education, a registered non-profit in the state of Nevada.

Article published by Deb Coffey on the Indian Lakes facility contract in PPJ gazette:

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