The case involves the estate of E. Wayne Hage and his son Wayne N. Hage and has been going on since 1979.
Federal Judge Robert Jones had ruled in favor of the Hages, whose ranch is near Tonopah and even cited two federal land managers for contempt. The circuit court tossed all that.
This is what the court said about Judge Jones: A dispassionate observer would conclude that the district judge harbored animus toward the federal agencies. Unfortunately, the judge’s bias and prejudgment are a matter of public record. On the first day of the 21-day trial, the judge stated: “the Bureau of Land Management, you come in with the standard arrogant, arbitrary, capricious attitude that I recognize in many of these cases.”
“[I]t’s my experience that the Forest Service and the BLM is very arbitrary and capricious.” “Your insistence upon a trespass violation, unwillful —your arbitrary determination of unwillfulness [sic: willfulness] is undoubtedly going to fail in this court.”
At a pretrial motions hearing, the judge advised a third-party rancher that he could file a lawsuit against the government and that “[h]opefully you’ll get Judge Jones because I’m very receptive to Mr. Hage’s lawsuit.” Addressing Hage, the judge stated: “You have a court that’s very receptive and sympathetic to your claim.”
At a separate pretrial motions hearing, the judge stated: “In my opinion, not only in this case but in many cases, the government has been all too ready to — in the name of revoking or suspending or limiting grazing licenses, the government has been all too ready in the history of Nevada to impair otherwise suspected and substantiated rights of landowners.”
The judge explained in detail: We all know what that game is about… And the game, just for the record, even though the government in many cases didn’t have the right to insist upon a permit, because asking for a permit would be an additional limitation on the right of use of a property right, nevertheless, the government in many cases has insisted upon it, and then, when they denied or suspended or revoked the right, they said you no longer have the right. So that’s what that game is all about.
During the contempt hearings, the judge stated: “I don’t like and never have liked the BLM’s or Forest Service’s arrogant presumption that they could assess to people for [animal unit months], for trespass, their own travel costs, office costs, sitting in their big chair already paid for by the American taxpayer.”
To many Nevada observers it is Judge Jones who has an accurate view of the events and deeds taking place on federal land here and the circuit court judges who are prejudiced and uninformed. In 2013, Sen. Dean Heller took the floor of the Senate to agree with Judge Jones.
“The court found that for more than two decades, federal officials entrusted with responsibly managing public lands actively conspired to deprive Wayne Hage, and his father’s estate, of their grazing permits and their water rights,” Heller said. “In its decision, the court ruled that ‘the government had abused its discretion through a series of actions designed to strip the Estate of its grazing permits, and of the ability to use water rights.’”
He added, “The Framers of the Constitution believed that private property rights were sacred. The 5th and 14th Amendments specifically prohibit the government from depriving citizens of ‘Life, Liberty, or Property, without Due Process of law.’ And those amendments are there for a reason.”
The court ordered the Nevada district court to enter a judgment for the government on all claims and to calculate appropriate damages. The liberal court has once again sided with the bureaucrats over the citizens who are being run over roughshod.