The fact that they were there probably means they were taking it personally, and wanted to make sure the prosecutor did what they felt was appropriate. They are entitled to be there.
Better to have a large fine and no record in my book, so your friend was probably a winner in the matter.
When all of the emails started coming through, that probably personalized it. The lawyer may have been able to negotiate a plea, but if the officers "rangers" were this upset, even that would have been difficult.
Your end comments are pretty right on, when you are in their world, they are in control and the outcomes can be scary. Best to avoid ending up in their world.
I was arrested one night for poaching. We were watching a herd of elk through our headlights in a national park. The catch to the whole process was we didn't have a weapon. The ranger was convinced we'd hidden it. My friends were real smart asses that night, and I think thatís why we ended up being taken in. The next day, I had to call the head ranger, who was the father of a personal friend to get the thing cleaned up. I ended up paying a fine for watching wildlife through an artificial light, but in the end felt lucky that was all. While we can thump our chest about our rights, it's your word against theirs, and the prosecutors will defer to them unless you have hard facts to prove them wrong.
In the end, I'm still surprised they were doing this in the night in the desert. They must have had alot of complaints to have them take this aggressive tactic, or have been really bored.
Sorry about the difficult outcome.