SALT LAKE CITY — Federal prosecutors say convicted San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman shouldn't get a new trial because they didn't suppress evidence as he claims.
Prosecutors also argue in a court filing Friday that a 1979 map the defense says it discovered after the trial is neither material to the case nor favorable to Lyman and co-defendant Monte Wells, a Monticello city councilman.
A jury convicted the two men in May of organizing and participating in an illegal ATV protest ride on a road in Recapture Canyon that the Bureau of Land Management closed to motorized vehicles.
Meantime, the Utah Association of Counties named Lyman its 2015 county commissioner of the year at its fall conference.
"Phil has been a great public servant,” Kerry Gibson, Weber County Commissioner and president of the Utah Association of Counties, said in a statement. "He’s proven his love for the citizens he represents and is committed to standing for something his colleagues across the state support and believe in."
Lyman and Wells contend the BLM failed to disclose the map showing the road in the canyon is a "public highway" known as an RS2477 road. They say that means they can't be legally faulted for leading and riding with a group of protestors who were angry about the federal government's designation of the land.
Prosecutors say the map is irrelevant because the legal status of the canyon was not an issue for the jury. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby, who has since removed himself from the case, did not allow defense lawyers to argue about the road closure during the trial because the court had already found it legal.
"Thus, because the legality of the closure of Recapture Canyon to motorized use was not and should not have been a jury issue, showing the 1979 map to the jury would have invited it to trespass into a question it could not decide," prosecutors wrote.
Utah is seeking quiet title to 12,000 segments of so-called RS2477 roads in the state in an ongoing lawsuit against the federal government. Earlier this month, it added the Recapture Canyon road to the list.
Also, Lyman late Friday filed a notion asking the court to dismiss the indictment against him or that he be acquitted.
"Without a determination as to the legal status of Recapture Canyon road, the government has no basis for proceeding as if the road is closed and, as a matter of law, cannot prove the elements of its case beyond a reasonable doubt," Lyman's attorney wrote.
Lyman and Wells are scheduled to be sentenced on the misdemeanor charges Dec. 18 before Judge David Nuffer. The judge will hold a hearing later to this month to decide whether they should pay for alleged damage to the canyon.
Federal prosecutors recommend they spend up to a year in prison and pay fines up to $30,000 and restitution totaling $95,955.
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