The Triple B/Jackson Mountain Federal court actions carried by Wild Horse Education (WHE) are moving forward in court. There is a lot of misinformation out there about our work in Federal Court for wild horses and burros. To set the record straight: These are the ACTIVE Court Cases CARRIED SOLELY BY WILD HORSE EDUCATION: Triple B/Jackson Mountain, Owyhee Complex, and the First Amendment (Public Access/Press Freedom) case. Some of the misconceptions and misinformation about our cases are that the cases are over, or have been dismissed by the judges. This is simply not true. All of our cases are active and we have links below for you to read to find out more about each of them. Part of the cause for the misinformation may be that people don’t understand how the law works. In the course of litigation a defendant — (in these court cases the defendants are the Department of the Interior (DOI) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM)– files a “Motion to Dismiss.” When a defendant does this it is not the same as a judge saying a case is dismissed… it just means the defendant wants the judge to dismiss. However, the judge is the one who decides a case and a case is not complete until the judge says so). A while back we wrote a general piece about how litigation works that can be READ HERE.
We recently did a piece to explain what is happening in our Owyhee case so to find out about that case READ HERE.
Yet another case we have that is active is the “First Amendment” case awaiting a decision on Preliminary Injunction. That case concerns the public and press right to access and information. That case is still active and has yet to be heard and resolved as well. You can read some thoughts on recent activity HERE.
The Triple B/Jackson Mountain case is also still active. We gained a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in 2011 and another TRO and a Preliminary Injunction in 2012. That moved the case into a phase called “Discovery.” Discovery comes as part of the normal course of litigation, which also includes attempts at settling the issues. Discovery is the portion of litigation that allows requests for additional information to occur in order to appropriately discuss the underlying case at hearing.
The history of the Triple B case, and information on what happened and what we are asking for, in that case can be READ HERE. The case was later amended to include Jackson Mountain. You can read about the Jackson Mountain portion HERE. (The Jackson Mountain portion, done rapidly and about a relatively narrow claim, demonstrates the amount of work that must be accomplished quickly whenever we file an action for Emergency Relief. After the emergency portion of a case completes you then have to head for hearing on the underlying Complaint).
Where the Triple B/Jackson case stands NOW
After requests were made for Discovery items (by both sides), this Order was filed:
DISCOVERY PLAN AND SCHEDULING ORDER
Following hearing November 21, 2012 with the Hon. William G. Cobb, the court enters the following Discovery Plan and Scheduling Order:
- The complete administrative record for the Triple B roundups and Triple B review, and the Jackson Mountain roundup from the government defendants, shall be provided to the plaintiff no later than thirty (30) days from today’s date.
- Should the administrative record be considered incomplete by the plaintiff, and should the government defendants and plaintiffs not resolve the issue(s), one of the parties shall notify the court to schedule a status conference.
- On January 25, 20132, the government defendants and plaintiff shall simultaneously , file their respective motions for summary judgment.
- On February 15, 2013, the government defendants and plaintiff shall simultaneously file their respective oppositions to the others’ motions for summary judgment.
- On March 1, 2013 the government defendants and plaintiff shall simultaneously file their respective reply briefs to the others’ oppositions to motions for summary judgment.
- The government defendants and plaintiff shall reserve January 18, 2013 as a tentative date for a settlement conference with the court.
IT IS SO ORDERED
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
After this Order was filed BLM petitioned the Court to request a dismissal on the Jackson Mountain portion of the case. (This is a possible source of misconceptions. PLEASE when people send you things that discredit Wild Horse Education’s (WHE’s) work, ask us what the facts are).
THIS is what the Judge wrote:
The defendants’ motion to amend schedule (#66) to allow for the filing of a motion to dismiss plaintiff’s Jackson Mountain gather claims is GRANTED. Defendants shall have up to and including January 2, 2013, in which to file any motion to dismiss. Plaintiff shall file any response on or before January 24, 2013, and defendants shall file any reply on or before February 8, 2013. The current deadlines set by the court’s scheduling order (#65) are accordingly stayed. Following the court’s decision on any motion to dismiss, or, should no such motion be filed, following the deadline for filing the motion to dismiss, this matter will be referred to the magistrate judge to reset the remaining deadlines.
IT IS SO ORDERED. DATED: This 19th day of December, 2012.
Howard J. McKibben UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
After this order by Judge McKibben on at the end of 2012 there was a rush of motions– first a Motion by BLM and then Wild Horse Education submitted our Opposition and then BLM submitted a response.
On March 26th the Judge made a ruling on BLM’s motion to dismiss Jackson Mountain. Wild Horse Education (WHE) founder, Laura Leigh, is the plaintiff for the case. You will see below that the Judge dismissed the second of Laura’s three claims for relief, but did this ONLY to tidy up the process. IN FACT the Judge LISTENED to Wild Horse Education’s (WHE) argument and DENIED BLM’s request for dismissal. Take a moment and let that sink in. Many of you feel that these issues are NOT being heard. But we ARE being heard. We are alive and have THREE active cases, all of which bring forth very important issues into the courtroom… into the hands of a Federal Judge that has the power to enforce law, create law and help build a better path for our beloved herds.
The ORDER in part:
Before the court is the defendants’ partial motion to dismiss, or in the alternative for judgment on the pleadings with regard to, the second and third claims for relief of plaintiff’s second amended complaint (#70). Plaintiff has opposed (#72), and defendants have replied (#73). NOTE: the numbers are citing filed documents.
In the body of the ORDER we see one of Wild Horse Education’s (WHE) cases cited as law and used as the basis of this decision. Wild Horse Education’s (WHE) First Amendment case has already created a published opinion by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and new case law to assist in showing the validity of arguments we make on behalf of wild horses and burros.BLM has always used the “mootness doctrine” as a way to avoid dealing with issues that in truth are ongoing, issues that BLM has always claimed in the past were “over” and therefore “moot.” That argument doesn’t work anymore and that is largely because of the work we have accomplished. This is why people need to persevere and not to lose faith in this process.
“The mootness doctrine ‘requires that an actual, ongoing controversy exist at all stages of federal court proceedings.’” Leigh v. Salazar, 677 F.3d 892, 896 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Pitts v. Terrible Herbst, Inc., 653 F.3d 1081, 1086 (9th Cir. 2011).
This is the Judge’s decision on BLM’s Motion to dismiss. We just got this decision this past week. So be aware that anyone saying our cases are dismissed or inactive is either misinformed or purposely misinforming the public.
Plaintiff’s third claim for relief broadly seeks declaratory judgment. Plaintiff asserts that this claim merely seeks declaratory judgment with respect to the claims asserted in her first and second causes of action and does not assert a programmatic challenge. Because plaintiff includes a request for declaratory judgment in her prayer for relief, her third claim is duplicative and will therefore be dismissed.
For the foregoing reasons, the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings (#70) is GRANTED as to plaintiff’s third claim for relief and DENIED as to plaintiff’s second claim for relief. This matter is referred to the magistrate judge for the resetting of the scheduling order in this case.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: This 26th day of March, 2013.
IN A NUTSHELL:
What all of this means is that the information we have asked for on Jackson Mountain is relevant to the ability to appropriately argue the underlying claims. We now go back to the Magistrate to again have a schedule crafted to gain the appropriate documents, craft our case and move the issues toward a hearing. When we have the new schedule we will let you know.
PLEASE realize that ALL of these cases are very active. Much of the work involving litigation takes place outside the realm of public view (a hearing is a very important part of this process but in truth represents only a portion of the work). These cases do need your support to continue to gain important “building blocks” on the road to real change for our wild horses and burros.
The video below is of some of the events that occurred at Triple B. The case gained the first Temporary Restraining Order in the history of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act and also won a subsequent Preliminary Injunction. After the Judge ruled, BLM did their own investigation into conduct and through that investigation BLM actually admitted problems with conduct (not like the vehement denials that occurred at Antelope in 2011). READ response to investigation HERE.
Please consider supporting our investigations and actions on behalf of the wild horses and burros. We need your help to continue this work: http://wildhorseeducation.org/donate/