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Reptile: Related Cases

Case Name Citation Summary
Animal Rights Front, Inc. v. Jacques   869 A.2d 679 (Conn. 2005)   An environmental nonprofit organization sought an injunction to prevent a housing development from being constructed.  The nonprofit organization claimed the development was in violation of the Connecticut Endangered Species Act because it would destroy the habitat of an endangered rattlesnake.  The trial court held the development was lawful and the Court of Appeals affirmed.  
Animal Rights Front, Inc. v. Planning & Zoning Com'n of Town of Glastonbury   2002 WL 31761999 (Conn.Super.)   The plaintiff, Animal Rights Front, Inc., an environmental intervenor, appeals from a final decision of the defendant that gave subdivision and special permit approval to an application by defendant Rejean Jacques d/b/a Rejean Realty, Inc.  The basic issue of the plaintiff's appeal relates to preservation of the Eastern Timber Rattlesnake, an endangered species common to the Diamond Lake section of Glastonbury, and its migration across the development project, which would inherently lead to mortality.  On appeal, defendants questioned plaintiff's standing because they contended that rattlesnakes do not fall under the category of "natural resources."  Relying on a companion case, the court noted that endangered species are inherently deemed natural resources.  However in dismissing plaintiff's appeal, the court found that the defendant made changes that provided for the protection of the rattlesnake and the commission reasonably relied upon these assertions by the defendant to support its conclusions so it was not required to consider alternatives to the proposed development.  
Broden v. Marin Humane Society   70 Cal.App.4th 1212 (1999)   Owner of animals that had been impounded from reptile store brought administrative mandamus proceeding, challenging conclusions by hearing officer at hearing that followed animal control service's seizure of animals from store.  On appeal, the court held that the warrantless entry of animal control officer into store was justified by exigent circumstances and that the owner lost all possessory interest in seized animals by failing to pay costs of seizure and impoundment within 14 days of seizure.  
Coroneos v. Montgomery County   869 A.2d 410 (Md. 2005)  

Pursuant to a warrant, the police seized all un-cared for animals owned by a reptile distributor.   The distributor was told he could appeal the seizure, but must prepay the costs of boarding and caring for the animals pending the appeal.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor fo the county and the Court of Special Appeals reversed, holding the owner was not required by the county code to prepay the costs of care as a condition for an appeal.         

 
Dehart v. Town of Austin   39 F.3d 718 (7th Cir. 1994)   The breeder was in the business of buying, breeding, raising, and selling of exotic and wild animals. The town passed an ordinance making it unlawful to keep certain wild animals, and the breeder filed suit challenging the constitutionality of a local ordinance.  On appeal, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the town because: (1) the ordinance was not preempted by the Animal Welfare Act; (2) the ordinance was not an impermissible attempt to regulate interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause; and (3) the town did not deprive him of his property interest in his federal and state licenses without due process.  
Gill v. Prehistoric Ponds, Inc.   634 S.E.2d 769 (Ga.App., 2006)  

In this Georgia case, the Court of Appeals held that, on issue of first impression, an alligator farm was not a "farm" within meaning of the state statute that exempted "farm laborers" or their employers from coverage under the Workers' Compensation Act (Gill was bitten while cleaning out a pen and subsequently developed both a bone infection and salmonella). In construing the relevant statutes, the court found that in the chapter on Employment Security Law (ESL), the legislature meant that individuals who raise or tend wildlife perform "agricultural labor," but only when they do so on a "farm," which is "used for production of stock, dairy products, poultry, fruit, and fur-bearing animals." Accordingly, the court concluded that when Gill cleaned out the alligator pens, he was caring for wildlife and thus performing "agricultural labor." However, his employer, an alligator farm, was not a "farm" because alligators are "wildlife," not "[live]stock ... [or] fur-bearing animals." 

 
Oceana, Inc. v. Gutierrez   488 F.3d 1020 (C.A.D.C., 2007)   This federal appeal concerns regulations issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2004 for leatherback sea turtles. The leatherbacks experience mortality due to long-line fishing in the pelagic ocean after they become entangled or hooked on the lines. In 2001, the Service issued an RFA - reasonable and prudent alternative - to long-line fishing operations in the pelagic ocean off the coast of New Jersey where operators could replace the industry-wide standard J-hook with circle hooks which would reduce mortality. Oceana claim is that the Fisheries Service acted arbitrarily when it predicted that the measures it was putting in place would result in a 13.1 percent mortality rate by 2007 for leatherbacks caught in longlines. The Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that the Service's judgment was not arbitrary or capricious when it predicted that fishing operators could achieve a 13.1 post-release mortality rate.   
State v. Butler   587 So. 2d 1391 (Fl. 1991)   The Florida appeals court held that the lack of a pre-deprivation hearing prior to the seizure of respondentís alligators for lack of a permit did not violate the due process clause of the Constitution. Since the state owned title to all wildlife, and since Butler did not have the required permit to possess the alligators, there was no protected interest requiring due process.  
U.S. v. Bronx Reptiles, Inc.   217 F.3d 82 (2nd Cir. 2000)   After defendant received a shipment of dead frogs, he was convicted of violating a portion of the Lacey Act, 18 U.S.C.S. § 42(c), which made it a misdemeanor to knowingly cause or permit any wild animal to be transported to the United States under inhumane or unhealthful conditions. Defendant appealed, and judgment was reversed and remanded with instructions to enter a judgment of not guilty. The government failed to meet its burden to prove not only that the defendant knowingly caused or permitted the transportation to the United States of a wild animal, but also that the defendant knew the conditions under which the frogs was transported were "inhumane or unhealthful."  
U.S. v. Crutchfield   26 F.3d 1098 (11th Cir. 1994)   The court reversed the district court's judgment of convictions against defendants for the illegal importation and the intent to sell iguanas in the United States because of prosecutorial misconduct. The court held that the prosecutor wasted valuable money in pursuing irrelevant testimony, and improperly questioned defendants and their witnesses after repeated warnings from the district court judge.  
U.S. v. Guthrie   50 F.3d 936 (11th Cir. 1995)   The court affirmed the decision of the district court which convicted defendant of violations of the Lacey Act (Act) and the Endangered Species Act. The court held that the Act was not unconstitutional, that defendant was not permitted to collaterally challenge an agency regulation on the grounds of new scientific evidence, and that the Secretary of the Interior's finding that the turtle was a valid species was not arbitrary.  
U.S. v. Lewis   349 F.3d 1116 (9th Cir. 2003)   Defendant was convicted of a number of offenses related to his role in a wildlife smuggling operation. If trial did not begin within the requisite time period and defendant moved for dismissal prior to trial, the court had to dismiss the indictment, either with or without prejudice. The court held that the circumstances in the case, where it was clear that the delay in the trial caused the delay in the hearing, rather than the other way around, and where defendant repeatedly asked the court to set the case for trial and was otherwise ready to proceed to trial, plaintiff United States' pending pretrial motion could not serve as a basis for exclusion for a 117 day period. Because the delay violated the Speedy Trial Act, defendant's convictions had to be reversed, his sentences vacated, and his indictments dismissed.  
U.S. v. Lewis   240 F.3d 866 (10th Cir. 2001)   A jury convicted defendant of one count of violating the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C.S. §§ 3371-3378. The jury found that defendant had violated Oklahoma law by capturing wild elk, holding them captive, and organizing at least one commercial elk hunt, without a license for those activities. The court affirmed. Violation of a state hunting law was an adequate basis for a Lacey Act prosecution. There was sufficient evidence to prove that the Oklahoma statute regarding commercial hunting licenses applied to defendant, and that defendant had knowledge of the statute's requirements.  
U.S. v. Molt   631 F.2d 258 (3rd Cir. 1980)   The court affirmed a judgment of sentence entered following defendant's conditional plea of guilty to smuggling and to violating the Lacey Act. The court held that the district court properly denied defendant's Speedy Trial Act motion where defendant incorrectly computed the number of excludable days. Therefore, the court concluded that more than 120 non-excludable days did not elapse between the indictment and the trial.  
U.S. v. Molt   615 F.2d 141 (3rd Cir. 1980)   Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania of knowingly importing Fijian reptiles contrary to the Tariff Act and of conspiring to commit such offense. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the evidence was sufficient to sustain finding of knowing importation and of receiving and concealing illegally imported reptiles.  
U.S. v. Molt   599 F.2d 1217 (3rd Cir. 1979)   Defendants were indicted for conspiracy to smuggle snakes and other reptiles into the United States in violation of the Lacey Act, 18 U.S.C.S. § 43. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss counts based on alleged violations of the laws of Fiji and of Papua New Guinea, finding that foreign laws and regulations referred to in the statute were designed and intended for the protection of wildlife in those countries. On appeal, the trial court's order dismissing an indictment against defendants for smuggling wildlife was affirmed as to Fiji, where the regulation relied on was a revenue ordinance. The court reversed as to Papua New Guinea where the law was intended to protect wildlife in the country of origin.  
U.S. v. Paluch (unpublished)   84 Fed. Appx. 740 (9th Cir. 2003)   The court first concluded that venue was proper for the smuggling charges and the conspiracy charge. Turning to the convictions, the court found that his convictions of felony conspiracy and smuggling were supported by sufficient evidence. The court rejected his argument that the general smuggling law was inapplicable to the acts for which he was convicted because Congress had separately criminalized this conduct as a misdemeanor under the Endangered Species Act.  
U.S. v. Tierney (Unpublished)   38 Fed. Appx. 424 (9th Cir. 2002) (unpub.)   The district court did not err by denying the defendant's proposed entrapment instruction and that Nev. Admin. Code 504.471 is not unconstitutionally vague. He did not present evidence to support his position on either element. Rather than indicating government inducement or lack of predisposition, the evidence showed that the government merely provided the defendant with an opportunity to sell what he was already ready and willing to sell. The court also found the meaning of "wildlife" under Nevada law was not unconstitutionally vague.  
United States v. Kum   309 F.Supp.2d 1084 (E.D. Wis. 2004)   Defendant convicted for conspiracy to smuggle endangered wildlife into the United States.  Government moved for upward departure from sentencing range.  Held:  Court would not depart upward to reflect cruel treatment of animals (other holdings generally unrelated).  

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