In what could be a foreshadowing of the types of penalties awaiting San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman (specifically in his role in the Recapture Canyon ride on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land), David Justice of Gunnison, Colorado will be spending a month in jail and will pay $4,000 restitution for destroying a barricade on public land administered by the BLM. Additionally, Justice has been banned from all federal lands for two years.
In July of 2013, a protest very similar to Lyman’s action included Justice leading his supporters while ripping out a federally-owned gate across Cushman Creek Trail near Montrose, Colorado. Justice was arrested by the FBI, U.S. Marshals, and BLM agents a year later in July of 2014 after the case was put together by federal prosecutors.
Lyman, convicted in April of conspiracy to lead a group protest into Utah’s Recapture Canyon and of misdemeanor trespass for the act itself, faces up to two years in prison and as much as $200,000 in fines and restitution for his crimes. Lyman’s case involved a closed area that is archeologically sensitive in eastern Utah and one also typical of the so-called “New Sagebrush Rebellion.”
Changing defense teams in July, Lyman’s convictions are being challenged. Appeals will include assertions that Judge Robert J. Shelby should have recused himself from the bench due to a close and personal association involving conservationists, those with an interest in seeing federal lands preserved. Ambiguous RS2477 road designations are also cited as a potential appeal strategy to be employed by Lyman’s counsel.
Shelby has previously waved away a personal connection with Stephen Bloch, head of the Southern Utah Wilderness Association, as being unrelated to the crimes Lyman has been convicted of committing.