April 16th: Seeking the Truth About Cliven Bundy
Most people who keep up with such things are aware of last week's standoff between rancher Cliven Bundy and the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It seems everyone has an opinion. Rather than weigh in with mine, I think it is more appropriate to define the issues.
BLM's position is that the federal government owns the land upon which Bundy has been grazing his cattle, and as the government's designated agent, BLM claims the right to do with the land as it sees fit-- including the right to remove Bundy and his cattle.
Bundy claims his family has been grazing cattle on this land for more than 100 years, and has the right to continue to do so, indefinitely, without paying any fees or obtaining any permits.
BLM has taken Bundy to court and, according to the government, Bundy did not prove his case. Bundy's response has been that he does not recognize the jurisdiction of the federal government over the land.
This has been dubbed a "State's Rights" issue by some of the alternative media. By "alternative media" I mean, of course, Infowars, Glenn Beck, Drudge Report, and others. There is no question in my mind that these media sources are fast becoming more mainstream than the so-called Mainstream Media. Increasingly these are the sources people (myself included) go to for the "real news."
I've listened to Alex Jones on the Infowars Nightly News tell me that Bundy owns grazing rights and water rights in this land, which are the same as owning mineral rights. I normally trust Jones and his news agency, but in this case I can't help wonder if we are really getting the truth.
I began my study of law with land and property rights, so this is something I understand quite well. I'm not going to pretend I've studied the specific history of Nevada and its public lands-- I have not. However I found an article written by Ken Cole and Ralph Maughan which provides quite a bit of background.
The authors lay out a brief history of how and when the land was acquired from Mexico by the United States government, and the various Acts which have been passed through to the present day. It is also useful to read the comments below the article, as some of the commenters appear to be knowledgeable of the history.
My readers know I am an advocate of State's rights, and the people's rights to be free of the juridiction of the federal government. As much as I would personally like Bundy to be right, I have to ask for the evidence.
It is a standard throughout the united States that before courts will recognize rights in real property, a document giving evidence of those rights must be recorded with the County Registrar. If Bundy has grazing and water rights in the subject lands then his family, at some time in the past, acquired documentation of those rights. That documentation will have been recorded with the County. Bundy can simply go down to the Registrar's office, get a copy of the evidentiary instrument, and post it on the Internet for all of us to see. In fact, I hereby offer to post that document free of charge here on The Lawful Path, as a public service.
Sure, the document won't have Cliven Bundy's name on it, but there are ways to establish heirship. Probate records, affidavits of heirship and identity, are all standard tools for substantiating evidence of heirship, inheritance, and succession.
I suspect that if any such documentation existed, Bundy would have presented it already. That leaves other means of acquiring right or title.
Bundy does not claim to own the land, just the grazing and water rights. So he has not been paying property taxes. (I don't agree with the concept of property taxes, but if he had been paying taxes it would be evidence of a claim.)
How about adverse possession? In Nevada, as in other states, if a person possesses land continuously, openly, notoriously, and adversely for a period of years, that person may sue to "quiet title" away from the title owner. If the court agrees and grants a judgment, this person becomes the new owner. The term of years in Nevada is twenty; in other states it varies. Bundy, whose family has been using this land for more than one-hundred years, would certainly fall within the timeframe.
Presumeably, Bundy has not done this, and would not want to do this since, if he takes title to the land, he will be required to pay property taxes on it. Could he win such a claim if he sued for it?
Let's take the case of two people, Adam and Bill, who own land jointly. Bill lives on the land continuously, and uses it every day for more than twenty years. Bill pays all the property taxes, even though Adam never visits, and won't pay his share. Finally Bill gets fed up, and sues for adverse possession. Will he win?
No, Bill cannot take Adam's share of the land through adverse possession, because Bill's use was not adverse. He owned an undivided share in the land and, therefore, had the right to use it. The fact that Adam did not visit it or pay the taxes is immaterial.
This is why in theory no person can sue the government for adverse possession, no matter how long that person may have used the land. As a member of the public, that person owns an interest in the land.
An issue I have not seen raised before may apply in this case: Bundy has not paid permit fees or applied for permits since 1993. He has used the land continuously, over the objections of the goverment for more than twenty years. There is at least a potential argument that his use has been adverse. Of course I doubt he could ever enforce such a claim.
In closing, I'll just say that I cheered along with the protesters when BLM backed down last Saturday. However I do not think for a minute that this is over. In the meantime, if Bundy has any real evidence of his rights in that land, he should produce it as soon as possible.
April 10th: Regarding the Heartbleed Bug. A vulnerability has been uncovered in all versions of OpenSSL, which is the encryption software protecting nearly all ecommerce on the Internet. Apparently, this bug has existed since December 31, 2011, and has allowed attackers to view private encrypted data on effected websites. Most virus warnings you read on the Internet are re-hashed hoaxes, but it appears this one is for real.
OpenSSL is open source software. Open source is usually immune, or nearly so, to these kind of vulnerabilities. The reason for this is because, since the source code is open and available for anyone to see, flaws such as this usually come to light quickly, and are fixed. The fact that this vulnerability has existed for more than two years leads me to believe it was most likely engineered by people in the U.S. government (NSA), and that these same people have been the primary attackers taking advantage of the bug.
The existence of the bug became known on April 7, three days ago. On the SAME DAY, the developers of OpenSSL released a patch which disables the bug, and stops the attackers dead in their tracks.
It is important to realize that this software is used by both Unix based, and Windows based servers, and that any server which is not upgraded with a patched version of OpenSSL will remain vulnerable. It is my understanding and belief that when vulnerabilities come to light, Windows based servers are usually vulnerable for a much longer period than Unix based servers-- first because Microsoft takes their sweet time about releasing security updates, and second, because (in my opinion) the administrators of Windows servers tend to be less diligent and/or less competent.
In any case, I want to caution all of our readers about this bug. Some servers may go unpatched for years! Users of large servers such as Yahoo, Facebook, Gmail, Amazon, etc., are the biggest targets. It is assumed they will all patch their servers promptly, if they have not done so already, but I advise you to do some checking to be sure, particularly if you use any financial services over the Internet. Experts are suggesting the average internet user wait a week or so for things to "shake out", before conducting business online.
To our Patrons: We thank you again for your support. Please rest assured that we patched our own servers moments after receiving notice of the bug. I have also personally verified that Paypal guarantees they have no vulnerabilites to this bug.
The important question to ask your vendors is this: What is the build date of the version of OpenSSL on your server? If the date is prior to April 7, 2014, do not conduct business with them until they upgrade.
January 16th: Good news! We just fixed the instant download script in our Catalog. Digital files are now delivered instantly by email. If you experience any problems we want to know about it. Please contact us and we'll fix it.
January 12th: We just moved lawfulpath.com to a different physical server. Nothing changes as far
as the operation of the server, however the Forum will be down for awhile-- anywhere from a few hours to a
couple days, depending on how long it takes for the DNS records to propagate. Thanks for your patience.
Gregory Allan, Editor
Last Update: April 16, 2014
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Free. Not subject to legal constraint of another. (Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition)
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