SALT LAKE CITY — Seems no federal judge wants the illegal ATV ride case against San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman landing on their desks.
Two more judges were recused Monday, bringing the total so far to four.
U.S. District Judge David Sam issued a memorandum saying only that he finds he needs to step aside. An order on the court docket also recuses Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells.
Judge David Nuffer is now assigned to the case.
A jury convicted Lyman and Monticello City Councilman Monte Wells of conspiring to operate and operating off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles. They were scheduled to be sentenced on the misdemeanor charges Tuesday, but the hearing was postponed.
The two men have also filed a motion for a new trial, claiming the Bureau of Land Management failed to show properly that the road running through Recapture Canyon is in fact protected as a public right of way.
Judge Robert J. Shelby presided over the trial but stepped aside due to his close friendship with Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance legal director Stephen Bloch. The conservation group reportedly urged the government to prosecute Lyman for his protest ride in Recapture Canyon and asked the court to impose a stiff sentence.
The case was then assigned to Judge Jill Parrish. She promptly recused herself, citing previous work as an assistant U.S. attorney representing the BLM in the federal government's ongoing litigation with Utah over right-of-way claims on rural roads.
The BLM closed the canyon to off-road vehicles in 2007, citing damage to cultural artifacts in the area, but let other authorized uses continue on some sections, such as use by the San Juan County Water Conservancy District.
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