Reptiles: Related Cases

Case namesort descending 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.         

Freel v. Downs Freel v. Downs, 136 N.Y.S. 440 (1911)

Cleveland H. Downs and Walter Smith were informed against for cruelty to animals, and they move to quash complaints. Complaint quashed against defendant Smith, and defendant Downs held to answer.

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." 

In re New Jersey Pinelands Com'n Resolution 812 A.2d 1113 (N.J.Super.A.D.,2003)

This case concerns the approval of a settlement agreement for a residential development project that contained habitat critical to the survival of a local population of timber rattlesnakes, an endangered species in New Jersey.  The court's review of the record found that there is no reason to interfere with the determination by the Commission, since there was ample evidence to support the Commission's decision to approve the settlement.  The court also agreed with the lower court that the environmental organizations lacked standing to bring an endangered species counterclaim before the lower court.  Specifically, the court found that the Department of Environmental Protection and the Commission did not fail to act in implementing the endangered species act; thus, no standing was conferred upon the groups.  The court also noted that the DEP and the Commission acted in their requisite complementary roles in effecting the Act.

Let the Animals Live v. Hamat Gader Recreation Enterprises LCa 1684?96

Court held that holding a fighting match between a human and an alligator was a violation of the Israel Anti-Cruelty laws.

Newell v. Baldridge 548 F.Supp. 39 (D.C. Wash. 1982)

Newell was a tropical fish importer who became involved in a mislabeling scheme to import endangered sea turtles.  On appeal, Newell claimed he lacked the requisite knowledge or intent because he did not directly handle the imported sea turtles, he could not have known that they were mislabeled.  The court held that substantial evidence in the record supports the findings below that Newell knew or should have known of the mislabeling of the shipments of sea turtles.  Further, the court upheld the imposition of $1,000 penalty for each violation of the Lacey Act because of the mulit-violation, mislabeling scheme and the vital public interest in deterring illegal wildlife trade.

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. 

Rhoades v. City of Battle Ground 2002 WL 31789336 (Wash.App. Div. 2)

In this case, exotic animal owners appeal a summary judgment order dismissing their various constitutional challenges to a City of Battle Ground ordinance that prohibits ownership of such animals within city limits.  Specifically, the owners contended that the ordinance violated their right to equal protection under the constitution because it treats those who keep exotic pets within the City differently from those who keep dangerous dogs.  The court held that it was within the city's police power authority to enact these laws if they were supported by a rational relationship.  In fact, the court found that the local legislative body may draw a different conclusion from the Washington Supreme Court in areas of public safety and the exercise of the local government's police powers provided it does not conflict with the general laws of the state.  ( Note :  publication of case ordered Feb. 7, 2003 in 115 Wash.App. 752, 63 P.3d 142 ).

Sierra Club v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2013 WL 1111285 (D.D.C.,2013)

Using the Administrative Procedures Act, the Sierra Club filed a suit against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) due to the USFWS's response to the Sierra Club's petition to revise critical habitat for the leatherback sea turtle; the Sierra Club also charged the USFWS with unlawfully delaying the designation of the Northeastern Ecological Corridor of Puerto Rico as critical habitat for the leatherback sea turtle. While both sides filed a motion for summary judgment, the District Court only granted the USFWS motion for summary judgment because the USFWS's 12–month determination was unreviewable under the Administrative Procedures Act.

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 respondent’s 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. 3,210 crusted sides of Caiman crocodilus yacare 636 F.Supp. 1281 (S.D. Fla. 1986)

The plaintiff, the United States of America, seeks forfeiture of the defendant, 10,870 crusted sides of Caiman crocodilus yacare, an endangered species of wildlife (hides) transported from Bolivia to the U.S. in violation of the Lacey Act, among other statutes.  The court found that the testimony concerning the shrinkage of the crocodile hides during tanning did not meet the buren of the claimed owners showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the hides, which were shipped from Bolivia under the size limit imposed by Bolivian law, were not subject to the forfeiture provisions of the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. § 3374(a)(1) (1985).  The provision of the Lacey Act at issue prohibits the interstate or foreign commerce of any wildlife taken in violation of any foreign law. 

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 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. 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. 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. 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 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. 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.

U.S. v. Tomono 143 F.3d 1401 (11th Cir. 1998)

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.

U.S. v. William Slip Copy, 2008 WL 4587250 (D.Virgin Islands) 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.
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).