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Summary Judgment

  • Ministerio Roca Solida v. United States

Trump Pardons The Hammonds But Work Remains

Aug 01, 2018 | by William Perry Pendley

Congratulations to President Donald Trump for heeding my Fox News call of May 19, and those of other westerners, farmers and ranchers, to pardon the Hammonds.  Neither he, nor his appointees, nor the bureaucracy, however, should rest on their laurels.  There is much personal animus, agency vendettas, and prosecutorial abuses to undo and many innocents to be made whole.  One of those victims is Pastor Victor Fuentes of Nevada.

In its congratulatory commentary, the Wall Street Journal reported that among the other efforts of the Hammonds’ neighbor—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—to “drive out [the Hammonds and other ranchers]” was that it “mismanaged water to let ranchlands flood.”  The Hammonds are not the only westerners wronged by “theft by flooding.”  So, too, was Pastor Fuentes, who fled Castro’s Cuba and whose church (Ministerio Roca Solida Iglesia Cristiana), a small, mostly Spanish-speaking congregation, built a 40-acre refuge in the Nevada desert for troubled youth. 

Unfortunately, like the Hammonds’ ranch, Pastor Fuentes’ church’s land is surrounded by a Fish and Wildlife Service refuge.  Its officials, lawyers, and high-priced hired guns want him gone.  So, they diverted a stream that once flowed tranquilly across his land, co-opted his Nevada-approved water rights, and channeled his water onto federal land.  Incompetent as they are criminal, their diversion failed, and four times over 5½ years, water overflowed its new banks and cascaded across the church’s land.  It destroyed property, washed away fertile soil, and created gullied and dusty badland where there was once a beautiful oasis.

Represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation, Pastor Fuentes and his church are in federal court—the U.S. Court of Federal Claims—in Washington, D.C., arguing that the

government seized their property without “just compensation.”  Days ago, discovery closed and Mountain States Legal Foundation and Pastor Fuentes are now preparing for a full-blown trial, although it is expected the agency will assert there are no facts in dispute and they should win instantly.  In doing so they will rely—as we discovered in recent depositions of agency’s witnesses—on “experts” and their reports, which cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars, to justify the government’s theft of water and intentional flooding.

 For those Americans who were shocked by the sneering, smirking, stupefying preening of FBI agent Peter Strzok in his appearance before Congress, meet Tim Mayer, the unlicensed “Supervisory Hydrologist” at the Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland, Oregon. Mayer is the unbridled bureaucrat who green-lighted the scheme to steal the water and flood a church camp.  Mayer and his agency intentionally turned Pastor Fuentes’ church camp into a living hell, just to force these Christians off their property.  Though Mayer is neither a lawyer nor a historian, he admitted he routinely provides legal advice and counseled the agency that it was lawful to steal the church’s water. 

Another government “expert” brags unabashedly that he “majored in science in high school,” but admitted he lacks the expertise to say whether the agency’s water diversion project was constructed negligently.  A third deponent—of five woefully uninformed but very well paid ($440 an hour for one) experts—the meteorologist, opined the damage was the result of a “one-hundred-year flood,” but could not explain why four such floods in 5½ years did not invalidate his theory.  Federal lawyers should refuse to put these so-called experts on the stand at trial.  Instead, they will fight zealously to destroy the hopes, dreams, and years of sacrifice of Pastor Fuentes, despite that a federal agency made a moon-scape out of his church’s land.  If past is prologue, and federal courts being, after all, federal courts, the Fish and Wildlife Service may very well succeed.

President Trump said wonderful things about beleaguered westerners in pardoning the Hammonds, but those seeking to grind Pastor Fuentes into the dust did not get the message.  President Trump needs to Tweet Secretary Zinke before it is too late.

For more information: Ministerio Roca Solida v. United States

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