Cases

  • Note that certiorari was granted in 2009 by --- S.Ct. ----, 2009 WL 1034613 (U.S. Apr 20, 2009). In this case, the Third Circuit held that 18 U.S.C. § 48, the federal law that criminalizes depictions of animal cruelty, is an unconstitutional infringement on free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The defendant in this case was convicted after investigators arranged to buy three dogfighting videos from defendant in sting operation.  Because the statute addresses a content-based regulation on speech, the court considered whether the statute survived a strict scrutiny test. The majority was unwilling to extend the rationale of Ferber outside of child pornography without direction from the Supreme Court.  The majority found that the conduct at issue in § 48 does not give rise to a sufficient compelling interest.
  • Defendant was convicted of violating statute prohibiting the commercial creation, sale, or possession of depictions of animal cruelty. The Supreme Court held that the statute was unconstitutional for being substantially overbroad: it did not require the depicted conduct to be cruel, extended to depictions of conduct that were only illegal in the State in which the creation, sale, or possession occurred, and because the exceptions clause did not substantially narrow the statute's reach. (2011 note:  18 U.S.C. § 48 was amended following this ruling in late 2010).

  • The court held that the "second or subsequent conviction" component of the BGEPA applies to separate convictions charged in a single indictment.  For further discussion on the enhanced penalty provision of the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • The defendant moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that Maine section 7613 (related to the importation of fish bait species) places an impermissible burden on interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.  While the court noted there is nothing in either the statute or its legislative history which expresses the clear intent of Congress that the Lacey Act Amendments are meant to insulate state legislation from attack under the Commerce Clause, it found that the somewhat unique characteristics associated with Maine's wild fish population, the substantial uncertainties surrounding the effects these organisms have on fish and the unpredictable consequences attending the introduction of exotic species into Maine's wild fish population (including the introduction of fish parasites into the native population), the state clearly has a legitimate and substantial purpose in prohibiting the importation of live bait fish. 

  • Defendant appeals a civil forfeiture action under the BGEPA.  In applying the three-part Callahan test to defendant's free exercise claim, the court holds that while defendant's religious exercise is substantially burdened, the government has a compelling interest in protecting a rare species and effectuates this interest in the least restrictive means.  The court declines to consider defendant's free exercise challenge to the permit process, as defendant failed to apply for a permit and thus lacks standing.  For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA by Native Americans, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • The issue in this case is whether Edward A. Thomas, a Montana hunting guide and outfitter, may be found guilty of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act where the alleged object of the conspiracy was "to transport, receive and acquire elk in interstate commerce ... in violation of Montana state hunter's law."  The Court held that while a prosecution under the Lacey Act may not be sustained for the substantive acts of selling guiding services and hunting permits, an action can be maintained for conspiracies to violate the Act through these types of acts.  In this case, the underlying violations were acts of hunting with a transferred license or permit where the acts were allegedly committed by others.

  • Act May 25, 1900, c. 553, Sec. 4, 31 Stat. 188, incorporated in former section 393 of Title 18, was limited in its application to animals or birds killed in violation of game laws, and animals or birds killed during the open season - "the export of which is not prohibited by law," according to the court.  The court held an indictment would not stand for a failure to mark a package containing game killed during the open season but the export of which was prohibited by the law of the state where the same was killed.

  • 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.

  • Larry Todd and James Short appeal their convictions for conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act which prohibits the sale of wildlife taken or possessed in violation of federal law--here, The Airborne Hunting Act, 16 U.S.C. § 742j-1 (1976).  The court held that the judge's failure to give instructions related to the dates of the alleged acts constituting the conspiracy did not raise an ex post facto challenge since the facts allege only two overt acts that occurred prior to the effective date of the Lacey Act amendments; all of the other acts occurred during the effective period of the amendments and most of the evidence focused on events that occurred within the effective date of the amendments.  The appellants also contend that the government failed to establish that the game taken had a market value in excess of $350.   The court held that the evidence was insufficient to support Short's conviction under the substantive violation of the Lacey Act because the government offered no evidence that the value of the dead eagle, deer, or javelina exceeded $350.

  • Kei Tomono pleaded guilty to violations of the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(a)(1) & 3373(d)(1)(B), and the federal anti-smuggling statute, 18 U.S.C. § 545, in connection with his illegal importation of reptiles. At sentencing, the district court granted a three-level downward departure for what it termed "cultural differences."  The court held that "cultural differences" were not significant enough to remove this case from the body of cases contemplated by the Sentencing Guidelines so as to allow for downward departure.

  • Defendant alleged that his treaty-based hunting rights incorporate a right to sell eagles.  The court disagreed, finding such an interpretation of those treaty rights contrary to Indian custom and religion.  Court also holds that defendant lacks standing to raise a religious challenge to the BGEPA based on the religious rights of others.  Court is likewise unpersuaded by defendant's overbreadth claim.  For further discussion on the abrogation of Indian treaty rights under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • A grand jury indicted Defendants on multiple counts of, among other things, knowingly and willfully conspiring to kill, transport, offer for sale, and sell migratory birds, including bald and golden eagles, in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) (Count I) and unlawfully trafficking in migratory bird parts (Count II – IV). On appeal, as at the district court, Defendants argued that the counts to which they pled guilty were improperly charged as felonies because it was only a misdemeanor under the MBTA to sell migratory bird feathers. The court concluded first, that even under Defendants' interpretation of the MBTA, Count I charged a felony; and, second, that in regard to Count II, the allegations stated a misdemeanor only, not a felony. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, as to Count I, but reversed in part as to Count II. The court also vacated the sentence on both Counts, vacated the felony conviction on Count II, and remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion. On remand, the Defendants were given the option to withdraw their guilty pleas with regard to Count II, or the district court might consider whether to resentence their convictions on that count as misdemeanors.
  • The United States Fish and Wildlife Services investigated a tip that the defendant was selling eagle parts in violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Upon appeal, the defendant argued that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the undercover agent’s warrantless use of a concealed audio visual device to record the transaction inside the defendant’s home, but the appeals court disagreed.  However, the appeals court reversed  the defendant's conviction on Counts 2 or 3 and Counts 4 or 5 because those counts were multiplicitous.

  • After a government agent recorded a sale of eagle parts using a concealed audio visual device, the agent obtained a warrant and arrested the defendant for violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Upon appeal, the defendant challenged his jury conviction arguing two Constitutional violations, a Federal Rules of Evidence violation, and multiplicitous counts. The appeals court affirmed the jury conviction on all claims except the multiplicitous counts claim; this conviction was reversed. This opinion was Amended and Superseded on Denial of Rehearing by U.S. v. Wahchumwah , 710 F.3d 862 (9th Cir., 2012).

  • Defendant was a member of a recognized Indian tribe who killed an eagle upon his reservation.  The Court holds that it will not find an intent by Congress to abrogate Indian hunting rights under the BGEPA where the statute did not explicitly state that those rights were abrogated.  For further discussion on abrogation of Indian treaty rights under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • This opinion was vacated by the Hardman order.  Defendant was not a member of a federally-recognized tribe nor a person of Native American ancestry, but sincerely practiced Native American religions.  In response to Wilgus's free exercise challenge, the court held that the Act is a neutral, generally applicable law, falling within the safe-harbor created by Employment Division v. Smith .  For further discussion on the status of formerly recognized tribes under the BGEPA, please see Detailed Discussion.

  • Defendant Wilgus, while not a member of a federally-recognized Native American tribe, but a sincere adherent to Native American faiths, was found in possession of 137 eagle feathers during a routine traffic stop, contrary to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). This case was initially remanded to District Court to determine whether government's scheme to protect eagle-feathers was the least restrictive means of furthering its compelling interests in protecting eagles and Native American religions, as required by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993. The United States District Court for the District of Utah, 606 F.Supp.2d 1308, held that the scheme violated the RFRA and the Government appealed here. The Court of Appeals found that the government's existing scheme for issuing eagle feather possession permits and enforcing the Eagle Act is the least restrictive means of forwarding the government's compelling interests.

  • Defendants charged with unlawfully taking an endangered species and unlawfully possessing, carrying and transporting an endangered species within the United States in violation of the Endangered Species Act filed motions to suppress all evidence, including undersized lobsters and a sea turtle seized in connection with their stop and arrest after they had been stopped on suspicion of being illegal immigrants.   The District Court of the Virgin Islands, Division of St. Croix suppressed the evidence, finding that although the approaching police officer had reasonable suspicion to believe that criminal activity was taking place at the time the stop was made, the subsequent confinement of Defendants and search of their vehicle exceeded the limited purpose of the investigative stop.
  • Kenneth Ray Williams appealed his conviction for the illegal hunting of moose in violation of the Lacey Act. Williams claimed that his conviction should be overturned because the government failed to establish the validity of use of the wildlife law against a tribe member. The United States argued that there is no need for the government to establish the validity of the law's use against a tribe member.  The court affirmed the conviction and held that the government must establish the validity of the use of wildlife laws against tribe members but that similar laws enacted by the tribe can establish this validity.

  • This matter comes before the court on a Motion to Dismiss the Indictment filed by the defendant. The defendant, Ed Winddancer, was indicted on six counts relating to possessing and bartering eagle feathers and feathers plucked from other migratory birds. Winddancer did not have standing to challenge the manner in which the MBTA has been administered against him, because applying for a permit under the MBTA would not have been clearly futile. With regard to the BGEPA, the court found that defendant showed that the BGEPA substantially burdens his ability to possess eagle feathers. However, the court found that he did not show that his desire to possess the feathers arises from a sincere religious belief. Further, the court found that the government indeed has a compelling interest in protecting the bald and golden eagle, especially since there is no reasonable forensic method by which law enforcement can determine if a bird was accidentally or intentionally killed, killed a hundred years ago, or killed yesterday.

  • Defendant pleaded guilty to three counts under the MBTA after agents determined that he killed 250 great blue herons; he then went to trial on the remaining counts under the MBTA and BGEPA related to his killing of a juvenile bald eagle on his commercial fish growing operation. On appeal, defendant contended that he cannot be found guilty under the MBTA unless the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew the bird he was shooting was protected and intentionally shot it with that knowledge (defendant stated that he shot a "big brown hawk'). The court disagreed, finding the overwhelming authority requires no such specific scienter on the part of the actor. With regard to defendant's contention that the government failed to prove the "knowingly" prong of the BGEPA, the court was equally unpersuaded. The evidence demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant knowingly shot the eagle as it sat perched on the dead pine tree on the edge of his property, regardless of whether he knew the juvenile bird was an eagle or, as he said, “a big brown hawk.”

  • Defendant was found guilty by a jury of illegally importing narwhal tusks under several federal laws, including the Lacey Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, among others. On appeal, defendant contends that the district court erred by allowing and failing to cure statements by the prosecutor that allegedly violated defendant's Fifth Amendment protections. Prior to being charged, defendant met with FWS and Canadian agents where he did not proclaim his innocence when questioned on the tusks. In the process of showing inconsistency in defendant's statements, the prosecutor pointed out defendant's failure to state his innocence with the federal agents, which defendant claimed improperly burdened him at trial. Other arguments by defendant also pointed to error by the prosecution during direct examination and rebuttal argument with respect to defendant's silence during interviews with agents. The appellate court found the errors to be harmless or in response to defendant's attorney's statements. Finally, as a matter of first impression, the court found that Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS) reports logging date, time, and location of border crossing and license plate of the vehicle were admissible hearsay. The convictions were affirmed.
  • Parasail operators challenged the validity of a state law that banned parasailing in navigable waters.  Both parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.  The District Court held first that the statute in question was preempted by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and second, that the Endangered Species Act did not repeal the MMPA's preemption provision.  Judgment for the parasail operators.

  • Some parasail operators brought an action against state officials challenging validity of a state law that banned parasailing in navigable waters. Defendants argued that the court's order should be reconsidered in light of an intervening change in federal law that they say allows for the seasonal parasailing ban.  After vacation of summary judgment in favor of operators, 2005 WL 1910497, the state moved for relieve from final judgment.  The District Court held that the federal law permitting Hawaii to enforce state laws regulating recreational vessels for purpose of conserving and managing humpback whales did not violate separation of powers doctrine, and federal law did not violate Equal Protection Clause.

  • A Pennsylvania association consisting of hunters and outdoorsmen and members of the association filed a complaint/request for writ of mandamus against the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and various state officials, seeking an order directing Commission and DCNR to provide the data and information on which the Commission relied in setting "harvest" figures for Pennsylvania's deer population. Before this Court in our original jurisdiction are the preliminary objections of the Pennsylvania Game Commission , the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and certain Commonwealth officers (collectively, Respondents). The court first found that the Sportsmen indeed have standing, conferred both by statute and under the under the traditional substantial-direct-immediate test. However, Respondent Game Commission's demurrer was sustained, primarily because the court agreed that due to the ambiguous nature of Sportsmen's pleading, it is not possible to discern a legal theory to support the relief requested. Further, the court sustained Respondent's claim that the DCNR, its Secretary, and the state's Governor were not proper parties to association's suit. Despite these procedural defects, the court did not dismiss the Sportsmen's action, and instead allowed them to amend their complaint within 30 days of this order.

  • In June 2010, a private non-profit corporation that contracted with the City of Chattanooga to provide animal-welfare services, received complaints of neglect and unsanitary conditions at a mall pet store. Investigations revealed animals in unpleasant conditions, without water, and with no working air conditioner in the store. Animals were removed from the store, as were various business records, and the private, contracted non-profit began to revoke the store's pet-dealer permit. Pet store owners brought a § 1983 suit in federal district court against the City of Chattanooga; McKamey; and McKamey employees Karen Walsh, Marvin Nicholson, Jr., and Paula Hurn in their individual and official capacities. The Owners alleged that the removal of its animals and revocation of its pet-dealer permit without a prior hearing violated procedural due process and that the warrantless seizure of its animals and business records violated the Fourth Amendment. Walsh, Nicholson, Hurn, and McKamey asserted qualified immunity as a defense to all claims. On appeal from district court decision, the Sixth Circuit held the following: Hurn, acting as a private animal-welfare officer, could not assert qualified immunity as a defense against suit in her personal capacity because there was no history of immunity for animal-welfare officers and allowing her to assert qualified immunity was not consistent with the purpose of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Walsh and Nicholson acting both as private animal-welfare officers and as specially-commissioned police officers of the City of Chattanooga, may assert qualified immunity as a defense against suit in their personal capacities. With respect to entitlement to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity in the procedural due-process claims: Walsh and Nicholson are entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the animals, Nicholson is entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the permit, and Walsh is denied summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the permit. Regarding entitlement to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity on the Fourth Amendment claims: Walsh and Nicholson are entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the animals, Nicholson is entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the business records, and Walsh is denied summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the business records.Because qualified immunity was not an available defense to an official-capacity suit, the court held that employees may not assert qualified immunity as a defense against suit in their official capacities. The district court’s entry of summary judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
  • A man was charged and convicted for violating the Lacey Act after illegally selling a tiger and grizzly bear.  The trial court admitted the man's conversation into evidence in which he implicated himself in the illegal sale of a grizzly bear.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court holding the man's conversation was not protected by the Sixth Amendment because it was made before there were specific charges against him for the illegal sale of the grizzly bear.

  • On a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin implementation of the 2015 Rule (80 Fed.Reg. 12702 ), the US District Court for the District of Columbia addressed whether the U.S. Department of Interior acted within its authority when it issued Lacey Act regulations prohibiting the interstate transportation of certain large constricting snakes. The United States Association of Reptile Keepers argued that since the Lacey Act “[did] not encompass transportation of listed species between two states within the continental United States,” the Department of Interior exceeded its authority. Relying on the history of zebra mussels and bighead carp, the Department argued that it did not. The Court, however, found the Department had failed to establish that that history was sufficient to confer an authority on the Department that Congress did not confer when it enacted the controlling statutory text. The Court ruled the preliminary injunction would issue and ordered the parties to appear for a status conference on May 18, 2015 to address the scope of the injunction.
  • A couple owned and operated a caviar business.  They were convicted of violating the Lacey Act by purchasing and selling paddlefish eggs during the closed season, falsifying records and operating a fish dealership without a license.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.  This Judgment was Vacated by Hale v. U.S ., 125 S.Ct. 2914 (2005).

  • The jury convicted the Allemands of conspiring to export illegally taken wildlife and to file false records concerning wildlife intended for export.  The court held that any error in the trial court's failure to instruct the jury that it could convict for conspriacy to make and submit false records concerning wildlife export only if conspirators intended to violate the law it was amended in 1988 was harmless where almost all the evidence adduced at trial related to acts from a time after the amendment was effective.

  • On July 7, 1995, a grand jury returned an eight-count indictment against the defendant charging him with violations of the Lacey Act; defendant has filed a motion to dismiss the indictment.  The court found that the Lacey Act embodies Congress' valid exercise of commerce power even when applied to a recreational hunter who purchased hunting guide services in violation of state law.

  • Victor Bernal and Eduardo Berges were convicted of various crimes in connection with an attempt to export two endangered primates--an orangutan and a gorilla--from the United States to Mexico in violation of the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  While the main issue before the court was a downward departure in sentencing guidelines, the court found the purpose of the Lacey Act is protect those species whose continued existence is presently threatened by gradually drying up international market for endangered species, thus reducing the poaching of those species in their native countries.

  • An importer of 144,774 pounds of cooked, frozen blue king crab was charged with violating the Lacey Act for taking the crab in violation of Russian fishing regulations.  The crab is subject to forfeiture under the Lacey Act on a strict liability basis, but the importer asserted an "innocent owner" defense.  The trial court denied the owner's defense and the Court of Appeals affirmed, reasoning if the crab was illegally taken under Russian law then it is considered contraband for Lacey Act purposes regardless of its status under U.S. law.

  • Defendants were caught illegally over-fishing off the coast of South Africa and selling the fish in the United States, in violation of the Lacey Act. The United States Government could not seek compensation for South Africa under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act because the fish were not property belonging to South Africa. However, the United States Government may be able to seek restitution for the South African Government under the discretionary Victim and Witness Protection Act.  Opinion Vacated and Remanded by: U.S. v. Bengis, 631 F.3d 33 (2nd Cir., 2011).

  • This case involves a conspiracy charge to defraud a corporation in which the United States was a stockholder.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Mitchell referred to this Supreme Court case when it found that the nature of the MMPA does not compel its application to foreign territories.

  • During a search related to a controlled substances violation, undercover agents seized eagle feathers from defendant.  The court held that Congress exercised valid Commerce Clause power in enacting the BGEPA, as the incentive of interstate commerce in eagle parts would threaten eagles to extinction, thus depleting the future commercial potential of activities such as eagle-based tourism and educational research.  For discussion on the Eagle Act and the Commerce Clause, see Detailed Discussion .

  • In this case, Brian F. Charette filed an appeal after he was sentenced to six months of imprisonment and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution for shooting and killing a grizzly bear in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Charette argued three issues on appeal: (1) that the trial court's denial of a jury trial violated his constitutional rights; (2) that the trial court erred in defining the elements of his charged offense; and (3) that the trial court erred in denying Charette's Rule 29 motion for a judgment of acquittal. The court found that the trial court did not err in denying a jury trial because Charette’s offense was considered a petty offense because it carried a maximum sentence of six months. For all crimes that are considered petty offenses, the Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury is not triggered. Lastly, the court addressed Charette’s Rule 29 motion which calls for an acquittal if the essential elements of the offense are not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In order for someone to be convicted of knowingly taking an endangered species the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that: (1) the defendant knowingly killed the animal; (2) the animal was engendered; (3) the defendant had no permit to kill the animal; and (4) the defendant did not act in self-defense or defense of others. Charette argued that the government failed to prove that he did not have a permit to kill the grizzly bear. The court ultimately found that the government did prove this element on the basis that Charette told officers that he did not report shooting the bear because he did not want to deal with the “hassle.” The court found that it was reasonable to believe that had Charette had a permit to kill the grizzly bear, he would not have found reporting it to be a hassle and therefore the government sufficiently established this element. As a result, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision. 

  • Defendant sought review of a decision from a United States district court, which during a second trial convicted defendant of armed robbery. Armed with a gun defendant went to the teller's window and handed the teller a cloth bag with a note saying that it was a holdup. Two photographs were admitted into evidence that showed agents in the relative positions of defendant and the savings and loan employees at the time of the robbery. The court found no prejudicial effect in the admission of the photographs especially in light of the positive identification of defendant by the teller in the courtroom.

  • The Defendant was convicted in the District Court of Hennepin county for the unlawfully malice killing of a dog.  The Defendant appealed the descision to the Supreme Court of Minnesota to determine whether a dog has value and thus would be cover by the Minnesota cruelty to animal statute.  The Supreme Court of Minnesota found that a dog has no value and would not be covered by the statute.

  • This is an order vacating the opinions issued in Wilgus , Saenz , and Hardman .  The Tenth Circuit requested the attorneys in the above cases to brief the issues outlined by the court.  For further discussion regarding religious challenges to the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • This case stems from a United States Fish and Wildlife Service's investigation into illegal trafficking of rhinoceros horns and ivory called "Operation Crash." Defendant James Hess, a taxidermist in Maquoketa, Iowa, agreed to sell a pair of lack rhinoceros horns in 2011 to another individual involved in the trafficking operation. As a result of his role, he was charged with one count of Lacey Act Trafficking for knowingly engaging in conduct involving the sale and purchase of wildlife with a market value exceeding $350 that was transported and sold in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Hess was ultimately sentenced to 27 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. On appeal, Hess first argued that the District Court made an “unsustainable finding on the record presented” when it stated that Hess "helped establish a market for these black rhino horns, and that is a serious offense against the planet." Because Hess failed to object at sentencing, this issue was reviewed for plain error. This court found no plain error, as the record supported the statement that Hess' action contributed to furthering a market for black rhinoceros horns. As to defendant's argument that his sentence was unreasonable, the court found that he failed to overcome the presumption of reasonableness in his bottom of the guidelines sentencing range. The judgment of the district court was affirmed.
  • The defendant had adopted 109 wild horses through the federal Adopt-a-Horse program, whereby excess wild horses were adopted out to private individuals under the stipulation that the horses would be treated humanely and not used for commercial purposes.  The defendant was charged under the criminal provisions of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and with conversion of government property after he sold a number of the adopted horses to slaughter.  At trial, the defendant argued that he could not be found guilty of conversion because the federal government did not have a property interest in the horses, as the power to regulate wild horses on public lands does not equate to an ownership interest in the horses by the federal government.  The court held that, regardless of whether the WFRHBA intended to create an ownership interest in wild horses, the government has a property interest in wild horses that it has captured, corralled, and loaned out.  

  • In this case, the United States Government brought an action against Kent State University alleging that the University’s failure to have any policy in place that would allow for the University to consider emotional support animals violated the Fair Housing Act. The parties resolved their differences in the form of a consent decree and asked the court to approve the decree. The court approved the consent decree but suggested that the parties make a few additions to the decree. The first suggestion that the court made was to specify what type of qualifications were necessary to make someone a “qualified third-party” for the purpose of making a statement to the University about an individuals need for an emotional support animal. Secondly, the court suggested that the University begin reviewing the logistics of how the University would manage having animals in its housing and how the animals would be properly cared for. Lastly, the court urged the University to look at whether or not the University offered sufficient break times between classes so that a student would have enough time to check on the animal and ensure that the animal was not neglected on a routine basis.

  • Two hunters were convicted of violating the Lacey Act after they hunted on a federal wildlife refuge, killed a deer and transported the carcass out-of-state.  The trial court imposed sentences of probation and fines.  The District Court affirmed the conviction and sentences holding they were reasonable.

  • 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).

  • Defendant violated the Lacey Act by presenting false information to gain a hunting permit.  He was convicted in United States District Court for the District of Idaho.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court decision holding the District Court and Tribal Courts have concurrent jurisdiction over Indians for violations of the Lacey Act.

  • Defendant McKittrick shot and killed a wolf in Montana.  Defendant claimed that the federal government's importing of wolves from Canada violated the Endangered Species Act because that Act required that imported "experimental populations" had to be "wholly separate" from any other populations of the same species.  McKittrick claimed that because there had been lone wolf sightings in the area before the wolves were brought from Canada to the Yellowstone region, the new population was not "wholly separate" from an existing population.  The court held that the regulations importing the wolves from Canada were valid because a few lone wolves do not constitute a "population", and that therefore defendant was guilty of unlawfully taking a wolf.

  • This appeal turns on whether the Marine Mammal Protection Act ("MMPA"), and related regulations, apply to an American citizen taking dolphins within the territorial waters of a foreign sovereign state. The defendant-appellant, Jerry Mitchell, is an American citizen convicted of violating the Act by capturing 21 dolphins within the three-mile limit of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The court held that the criminal prohibitions of the MMPA do not reach conduct in the territorial waters of a foreign sovereignty and reversed the conviction.

  • This case addressed issues relating to searches and seizures and violations of Fourth Amendment rights.

  • In this case, defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to launder money after the defendant’s vehicle was searched by law enforcement during a traffic stop. During the stop, the police officer used a service dog while searching the vehicle. The defendants argued that any evidence gained by the police officer be suppressed on the grounds that the search of the vehicle was not constitutional. Specifically, the defendants argued that the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to use the service dog while searching the vehicle. Ultimately, the court found that the search by the police officer and his service dog did not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights because the police officer had reasonable suspicion to search the vehicle. The court focused on the fact that the officer had legally stopped the vehicle and while talking to the driver and passengers he had established a reasonable suspicion that the defendants were transporting drugs. Once the police officer had a reasonable suspicion that the vehicle was transporting drugs, the police officer was legally allowed to use the service dog to search the vehicle. As a result, the court held that none of the evidence found during the search should be suppressed for violating the defendant’s constitutional rights. 

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