A win…

I was on the range… had no clue.

I showed up this am in the bitter cold and there was no public access point at the trap… “Who in their right mind would come out on a day like today?”…. (Never said the mind was “right”) Could not see handling at holding. Cannot see enough to assess horses and handling, at all. (I still don’t think they understand I can see horses on the range by myself and do with frequency. I want to see how they are handled).

There have been areas of improved dialogue working on the Stone Cabin adoption but real access is a major issue…

I left with a head ache thinking tomorrow might be better.

As soon as I had signal I saw I had a texts from so many people… “Call Urgent.”

I called someone I knew in the federal government. He read me the decision with so much emotion he had to stop twice.

I could hear those that signed our Constitution into law… applaud.

A victory celebrated by people on all sides of the fence… because it spoke to the core principle of our Constitution.

BLM Must Grant Press Access to Observe “Gathers” After

Huge Loss in Federal Court

February 14, 2012

Wild Horse Advocate Laura Leigh Wins on All Counts in Ninth Circuit Case

By Steven Long

Photos, Laura Leigh and Gordon Cowan

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – In a Nevada case with far reaching First Amendment implications, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down a ruling by a Reno federal judge and remanded the complaint of aHorseback Magazine news photographer back to his court. Laura Leigh, a freelance photojournalist on general assignment to cover massive Bureau of Land Management roundups of wild horses in the American West, sought a temporary restraining order on  grounds that her access to observe the capture process directly was being routinely denied by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM denies access to press and public to roundups it terms “gathers” in which scores of horses are stampeded and die. They are then held at taxpayer expense on vast pastures owned by private landowners when the agency controls 245 million acres where the horses could be kept for free.

It also sets up temporary holding pens where the press and public is denied on private land claiming it denies access on orders of the land owners.

Judge Larry Hicks of Reno had denied a temporary restraining order sought by Leigh in late 2010 saying it was moot since the roundups had already taken place. In the appellate court’s Valentine’s Day ruling Justice Milan D. Smith speaking for the court sternly pointed out the case became moot because Hicks was tardy in making a judgment either for or against Leigh. She was represented by famed Nevada litigator Gordon Cowan.

Amicus briefs in the case were filed by The Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press and National Press Photographer’s Association.

Cowan, the Reno, Nevada attorney who handled the case from its inception, said “When federal appellate judges write compelling words that, ‘The free press is the guardian of the public interest, and the independent judiciary is the guardian of the free press,’ in my opinion they demonstrate their true heroism in standing guard for First Amendment freedoms. And, they give press members like Ms. Laura Leigh hope that someone is looking out for them.” (This case was written by two people and two people only. Laura Leigh and Gordon Cowan. All briefs, no matter when or where filed, have no other authorship no matter any claims made. Legal filings, dates, bear this truth).

In a call from the Nevada wilderness late Tuesday to Horseback Magazine, Leigh reported she is still being denied access to observe the handling the animals in temporary holding by the contractor at Stone Cabin in Tonopah despite her victory in federal court today.

In writing for the court Smith reminded Hicks, of an 1822 a quote from James Madison, author of the U.S. Constitution, saying, “a popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Face or a Tragedy, or perhaps both.” The justice went on to say “To provide this first Amendment Protection the Supreme Court has long recognized a qualified right of access for the press and public to observe government activities.”

The BLM’s chief Washington spokesman Tom Gorey refused comment on today’s developments in the California appellate court.

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