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Denver • An attorney for a blogger convicted of illegal use of an ATV for taking part in a ride through a federally protected canyon in Utah told a federal appeals court on Thursday that the blogger deserves a new trial.

Attorney Michelle Mumford says the trial of Monte Wells was tainted because the judge was friends with a conservation group lawyer.

Wells took part in a ride in 2014 through parts of Recapture Canyon closed to motor vehicles because of ruins that are nearly 2,000 years old. The ride was organized to challenge federal management of Western public lands.

Attorneys for the federal government told the appeals court that even though the judge knew the lawyer for the conservation group, it had no influence on his decisions during the trial.