Who’s more eager to see the rancher win this case? The conservative grassroots or the feds, given the media migraine they’re going to suffer if this guy lands on the hook for $32 million?

Attorneys for the immigrants – five women and 11 men who were trying to cross illegally into the United States – have accused Mr. Barnett of holding the group captive at gunpoint, threatening to turn his dog loose on them and saying he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.

The immigrants are represented at trial by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which also charged that Sheriff Dever did nothing to prevent Mr. Barnett from holding their clients at “gunpoint, yelling obscenities at them and kicking one of the women.”

In the lawsuit, MALDEF said Mr. Barnett approached the group as the immigrants moved through his property, and that he was carrying a pistol and threatening them in English and Spanish. At one point, it said, Mr. Barnett’s dog barked at several of the women and he yelled at them in Spanish, “My dog is hungry and he’s hungry for buttocks.”

“This is my land. I´m the victim here,” Mr. Barnett said. “When someone´s home and loved ones are in jeopardy and the government seemingly can´t do anything about it, I feel justified in taking matters into my own hands. And I always watch my back.”

He’s caught 12,000 illegals over the past 10 years, due in part to the security vacuum created when the Border Patrol redeployed out of his area to border towns. If only the stimulus bill wasn’t so well thought out and efficient, we could have directed a billion or two of that trillion to beefing up security and hiring new BP agents. I guess that’s the price we pay for perfection. Exit question one: Any lawyers want to advance a theory by which Barnett joins ICE as a party to the suit for negligence in failing to protect his property from illegals? Unlike most of America, he clearly has standing; read the piece and see how much damage has been done to his ranch. I’m guessing that constitutional claims are a nonstarter thanks to DeShaney v. Winnebago and that the Federal Tort Claims Act is only marginally more promising, since he’d have to argue that protecting his land isn’t a “discretionary” duty and that the BP failed to “exercise due care” in redeploying. Even if the suit’s a sure loser, though, it’s worth making the claim for the PR value alone. Exit question two: Is there really a jury anywhere in America east of California and west of New York willing to find this guy liable?