Judge says Utah lawmaker doesn’t have to pay more in restitution for protest ride

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge says a Utah lawmaker does not have to pay more in restitution for his role in a 2014 protest of land policies.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah argued that Phil Lyman should have to pay more restitution, having been recently elected to the Utah House of Representatives. Lyman was convicted for his role in the Recapture Canyon protest ride, where demonstrators rode ATVs down a closed off area in protest of federal land policies. At the time of the protest, he was a San Juan County commissioner.

But in an order handed down on Monday, U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer pointed out that Lyman actually makes less money in the Utah State Legislature than he did as a county commissioner. Lyman argued that when he was elected to the legislature, he lost $25,000 in income.

Government lawyers sought to increase his court-ordered restitution from $100 a month to $500 a month anyway, citing a “material change in circumstances.”

“Here, it is undisputed that Mr. Lyman’s economic circumstances have worsened. And
although it does not appear that it was Mr. Lyman’s intent to avoid paying restitution by being elected to the Utah House of Representative and diminishing his annual income, Mr. Lyman has not moved—nor does he argue—that his ordered restitution payments should be decreased due to any inability to make the required $100 monthly payments. Instead, Mr. Lyman’s opposition focuses more on grievances against the federal government and the news media in a futile attempt to have his restitution overturned in its entirety,” Judge Nuffer wrote. “That request will not be entertained. But the Government’s motion will be denied.”

Read the judge’s order here:

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