Judge Hicks awards 1st Amendment victory to wild horse advocate

The Cloud Foundation Press Release

Court sees Each Roundup as Separate—Allows Leigh Access

First Amendment Scroll and Eagle
'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', stated Plaintiff Laura Leigh after today's ruling upholding her 1st Amendment rights, but allowing the Owyhee roundup to go ahead.

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.

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13 thoughts on “Judge Hicks awards 1st Amendment victory to wild horse advocate”

  1. I would like to know why a federal court Judge would make a ruling and then no one enforces it , what is the Sense…………………………………


  2. http://www.rcfp.org/

    If anyone is interested in FOIA information and journalism.

    There is some interesting information how to form jouralism groups to approach ,FOIA, and get information.

    Thank you for your great information. Fund for Horses, Vivain Grant

    “Great ideas tend to breed more good ideas.”
    Barbara Ries


  3. I cannot consider myself to be free until The Wild Mustangs are free………………….. When they assault The Wild Mustang in this way, they assault the the very Freedom of everyone in America………………… Allowing this to happen is challenging every Americans Right to Freedom…………………. Each and every Wild Mustang death lies needless and unnecessary !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They do this with aforethought Malice………………………..


  4. Mr. Bob Abbey is a liar, and a deceiving poor excuse for an American He deliberately lied to a Federal Judge… I am not a Lawyer , (I wish I was)but I believe that is perjury……….. and due cause for arrest ……….Yes Christina that is what the BLM sees Money and Greed………………………. Yes, How can this still be going on ????Jeeze , it is so very wrong and it is a actual Crime and an out and out BETRAYAL against America…….. and our Magnificent Wild Mustangs……….what the BLM is doing……………There must be a very SIMPLE way to stop them………….Our Wild Ones are suffering daily this is real for them…. The stand in innocent silience minding their, own being terrorized daily they do not understand this assault……. and they cannot help themselves , It is up to us to get this stopped, so they can live wild and free………..Our Promise to them……….How can all these people be so calious with the Wild Mustangs lives…….. The Mustangs are the very soul of this Country……….. Who runs this country its people or it certainly looks like right now Bob Abbey and the BLM>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


  5. Here we go again with the BLM’s lies. I have to wonder if the judge is getting some kind of kick back from these cruel and illegal round ups. I hope horse advocates and rescue groups are there when more horses die from at the BLM’s hands. Maybe the alternative media needs to be there to witness this, the media in St Louis is on the side of the BLM. I am glad that Laura’s 1st Amendment rights were protected.


  6. I am appalled at the inhumane manner these horses are being rounded up. They are forced to run in extreme heat for miles being chased by man operated machinery that doesn’t tire or feel the effects of heat and the trauma of fear. Little baby’s less than days old are forced to run for survival among the herd. The ones unable to keep up are left behind, waiting for mothers who will never return. Ultimately left for death. The ones who do make it through the dehydration and exhaustion into the holding pens are frantically forced into crowded corals trampled until broken. I understand these round ups are necessary. why not find a more human way. Round them up by horse back. Use one of there kind so when your working horse is tired and heat struck you know the herd is as well. You talk about tax payer dollars? I know Dave Cattoors helicopter is not cheap. We have paying guest that join in the Reno Rodeo round up each year, along with several volunteers. I’m sure if given the opportunity people would pay to participate in a round up and be part of our states roots. Then they say we are running out of time because the lands can not support the herds and they face death from dehydration? Put a few water troughs out on the rang during the period of the round ups. A horse can seek water out from miles away. If we can get a helicopter in to run the horses into the ground, then why can we not get one in to supply water? It seams to me we are making excuses to waste tax payers dollars and banish the wild horses because they are seen as a threat and nonsense to public lands, or is it all about the money game? But I guess that’s the American way, Right? We don’t deal with issues directly we just move them out of our way, the faster the better, out of sight out of mind. These horses are being run to slaughter. These free spirits represent the very roots of our state, the nature of witch our state is known. They are on our states quarter for christ sake! It is our job to manage and protect these gentle creations in a humane and economically beneficial way. Right now I only see dollar signs and self gratification (GREED) managing this situation.
    Bob Abbey must have some thick wool for Judge Hicks not to see through it.


  7. The first injunction was a temporary injunction until hearing. Judge is allowing BLM to round up Owyhee in an ’emergency’ roundup because he believed BLM testimony of water shortage creating an emergency. He believes he is saving horses lives. The world knows the horses are fenced out of the water, judge will soon know too. At least with First Amendment Rights upheld, press & observers can document Owyhee ’emergency’ roundup- hopefully no lives will be lost. Hearings on Rock Creek and Little Humboldt will see arguments on foaling season.


    1. The Judge in the IDA case was also sympathetic. I know after more than 7 years of this issue, I am sick and tired of BLM lies, death and destruction. I can’t imagine how advocates who have been doing this for decades must feel. Monday should be interesting. Thank you for taking the time to comment. You must be “run off your feet (pardon the sick pun).


  8. This is an e-mail I received yesterday? [ommited by Admin because of length]. Did he or did he not issue the injunction???


  9. This must be a different judge than the one that stopped the Tuscarora/Owyhee roundup yesterday or have I lost my mind? I am very glad that we can now observe and we have a judge who will actually listen. But, we need to STOP the BLM from doing ANY roundups. They are unnecessary.


    1. Same Judge, different day. The BLM are out and out liars, telling the Judge the roundup is necessary because it is a “rescue mission” now because they have no water. Well, hello. The mustangs have no water because they are fenced out from it.


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