Blanding Republican state Rep. Phil Lyman, convicted of a misdemeanor when he was a San Juan County commissioner, lashed out at the news media, the courts, and federal prosecutors in court documents objecting to a recommendation that his monthly restitution payments be increased five-fold.
Prosecutors are seeking to increase his monthly payment to $500, up from $100, toward the nearly $96,000 in restitution ordered upon his conviction for leading an illegal ATV protest ride.
In the court filing, Lyman reiterates his argument that he now earns less as a state representative than he did as a county commissioner — while criticizing the “bad math” of assistant U.S. Attorney Allison Moon — before launching into a 10-page screed on the “collusion,” “defamation,” and “jiggery pokery” committed against him.
“It is troubling to me that certain people in the U.S. Attorney’s office feel compelled to continually harass my name and reputation,” Lyman wrote. “I have learned from my own case as well as the constant barrage of distasteful news stories in the main stream media that this sort of denigration is the modus operandi of many in positions of power.”
Below are the 10 most interesting segments of Lyman’s filing.
• “They said that there was a KSL news camera crew waiting outside. It turns out that my hunch was spot on. This type of collusion is truly repugnant to people unfamiliar with the machinations of our so-called justice system. If you missed the story, I hope you will take a look at it to see just how slanted the media, working in concert with the U.S. Attorney, can be.”
Lyman offers an anecdotal story of being interviewed by KSL on the same day that a representative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office made inquiries regarding Lyman’s county salary as evidence that federal prosecutors “typically strategize with the media to do a smear campaign” ahead of court filings. He then includes a link to the story, which includes Lyman as an example of how court-ordered restitution can go unpaid.
• “Out of courtesy to the [Bureau of Land Management], and to avoid misunderstanding over the event and the road, both of which were not under the BLM’s authority, I communicated every aspect of our plans with Juan Palma, the state BLM director, but because Judge [Robert] Shelby had proclaimed our guilt prior [to] the start of the trial, his only objective from then on was a conviction, accompanied with all the negative attention he could generate toward me from the special interest groups that created his conflict in the first place.”
In this and other statements, Lyman relitigates the circumstances of his 2015 conviction for leading an ATV protest ride through Utah’s Recapture Canyon. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby recused himself from the case prior to sentencing after Lyman objected to Shelby’s friendship with the legal director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, a pro-conservation group that was not directly involved in the Recapture Canyon case.
• “This is collusion. It is the opposite of justice. It is the opposite of a fair trial. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars simply to bring this decay to light, not only for my own acquittal but for the exoneration of others in my community whose lives have been destroyed by this same jiggery pokery.”
Lyman continues the criticisms of his 2015 trial, employing a term of old-English slang meaning deceitful or dishonest behavior that was popular with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
• “He set justice aside and washed his hands. It is wrong in every respect and is viewed as such by honest people who know the truth.”
Lyman here turns his attention to U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber, whose office prosecuted the Recapture Canyon protest ride. After Lyman’s conviction was upheld on appeal in 2017, Huber issued a statement outlining how Lyman had broadcast his intention to commit a crime, was warned about consequences if he proceeded, and was ultimately held accountable by a jury of his peers.
“Our system is not broken,” Huber said at the time. “In fact, the system established under the Constitution worked exactly as it should.”
• “If you were inclined to correct the gross miscarriage of justice that was initiated by Judge Shelby, who later admitted to conflict due to his close relationship to Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, you would order a new trial.”
In recusing himself from sentencing, Shelby stated that his intent was to promote confidence in the proceedings and “avoid even the appearance” of impropriety. Lyman is currently representing himself during the reconsideration of his restitution payments, and his memorandum does not constitute a formal motion for a new trial.
• “What a travesty this has been. I recognize that there are criminals in the world, but I also know that I am not one of them and that I did everything possible to ensure that the protest was carried out legally and peacefully and, foremost, to ensure that members of my community were above reproach in the way they carried out the protest.”
Shortly after Lyman’s conviction, he was named “County Commissioner of the Year” by the Utah Association of Counties. But following a public backlash, Lyman declined to accept the honor.
• “The object of the protest was not the illegal closure of a road, but a barbaric raid by federal agencies on their hometown. In the decades since the raid, the BLM has been forced to acknowledge that their Law Enforcement Officer of the year, Dan Love, was in fact the psychopath that our community knew him to be.”
Dan Love previously led law enforcement for the Nevada and Utah BLM offices, but was fired after a report from the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General faulted him for misconduct.
• “Knowing that this information I am providing can and will be used against me, I will not provide any more information about my financial situation in this brief. All I will say is that my enemies would be proud to know the extent of my financial expense to contend with a completely manufactured narrative of vigilantism, racism, recklessness, destruction, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.”
Lyman recently told The Tribune “you can’t sneeze" in southeast Utah without being accused of racism by residents along the Wasatch Front.
• “I was compelled to run for commissioner because of the bullying tactics that I witnessed being used by the BLM upon my community and upon my neighbors. Through my own experience I am convinced that the problem lies in the false narrative that is being promulgated by those with an environmentalist bent.”
Lyman was a vocal critic of the designation of Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County. During the most recent legislative session, he sponsored unsuccessful legislation that would have required rural counties to operate under a three-member commission, and argued the restriction was necessary to protect counties from well-funded disruption campaigns by out-of-state conservationist organizations.
• “Bias in the media is one thing. Slander is one thing. But back room collusion between the media, the U.S. Attorney, the BLM solicitors, SUWA, and the Federal Judge controlling a manufactured criminal case is not okay.”
Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined Tuesday to respond to Lyman’s criticisms.
“We will file our response with the court,” she said. “So we don’t have any comment.”