In an historic 104-page ruling, Chief Judge Robert C. Jones of the Federal District Court of Nevada has struck a major blow for property rights and, at the same time, has smacked down federal agencies that have been riding roughshod over Western ranchers and property owners. The long-awaited ruling, which had been expected before the end of last year, was finally issued at the end of May. The court case, U.S. v. Hage, has been keenly watched by legal analysts and constitutional scholars — but has been completely ignored by the major media.
As we reported last November ("Judge Blasts Federal Conspiracy; Ranch Family Vindicated — Again!"), in June 2012, Judge Jones had issued a scorching preliminary bench ruling that charged federal officials of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with an ongoing series of illegal actions against Nevada rancher E. Wayne Hage (shown on left in photo) that the judge described as “abhorrent” and a literal, criminal conspiracy.
Judge Jones said he found that “the government and the agents of the government in that locale, sometime in the ’70s and ’80s, entered into a conspiracy, a literal, intentional conspiracy, to deprive the Hages of not only their permit grazing rights, for whatever reason, but also to deprive them of their vested property rights under the takings clause, and I find that that’s a sufficient basis to hold that there is irreparable harm if I don’t … restrain the government from continuing in that conduct.”
In fact, Judge Jones accused the federal bureaucrats of racketeering under the federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations) statute, and accused them as well of extortion, mail fraud, and fraud, in an effort “to kill the business of Mr. Hage.”
The Hage family has waged a heroic decades-long legal battle against these abusive agencies, in a David vs. Goliath contest against the combined might of the U.S. Department of Justice and the BLM/USFS legal teams. Precious few individual citizens are willing to undertake such a seemingly hopeless and costly effort as to challenge the formidable power and bottomless resources of the federal government. Wayne Hage and his wife Jean did so repeatedly, winning judgements only to have them endlessly appealed by the taxpayer-funded agencies. Jean Hage died in 1996. Wayne Hage and his second wife, former U.S. Congresswoman of Idaho, Helen Chenoweth Hage, both died in 2006.
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Photo: Nevada rancher E. Wayne Hage (shown on left) and Hage’s son, Wayne N. Hage (shown next to father)