The Cloud Foundation Press Release
Court sees Each Roundup as Separate—Allows Leigh Access
Reno, NV (July 15, 2010) — (TCF) First Amendment rights are upheld for wild horse advocate and journalist, Laura Leigh, Field Manager of Herd Watch, a Cloud Foundation program. Federal Judge Hicks strikes victory today despite his order to proceed with the Owyhee roundup. The other pending roundups in the complex such as Rock Creek and Little Humbolt have been acknowledged as separate events.
“This ruling was made by a judge that is obviously willing to listen,” said Laura Leigh. “He does not want the deaths of 75% of the horses in Owyhee on his heart and mind. As an advocate I completely understand why he ruled the way he did. However please take note that this judge recognizes that these areas are three separate areas and not the single event BLM has claimed. He ruled without predjudice to hearing my argument in his courtroom for Rock Creek and Little Humbolt as separate events. And he ruled with an absolute recognition of the reason our forefathers made the First amendment first. A free press is vital to the system of government accountability in a Democratic society. I am on my way to Owyhee…. We are not done with making a stand for these amazing beings that are such a vital symbol of American Freedom.”
The First Amendment protects the fundamental right of individuals including the press and journalists to gather information that are matters of public interest so as to provide that information to the interested public. When the BLM shut off the gather areas from public viewing they violated this concept, at least this is what federal Judge Larry Hicks conveyed in his Order.
Judge Hicks struck down the BLM’s blanket closure of public lands in the Gather area. He agreed with Laura Leigh that this “closure” amounted to a prior restraint on her First Amendment rights because she would not be able to observe and report on the health of the horses and the BLM’s management of the gather.
Assuming the BLM would fairly comply, this ruling brings back the “watchdog” concept which allows the public to observe the BLM’s activities in scheduled wild horse roundups.
“This is a victory for all member of the press. Laura Leigh took on the burden of anyone who was denied access. Now, any member of the public may have access,” explains Gordon Cowan the attorney for Leigh.