|U.S. v. Vance Crooked Arm||788 F.3d 1065 (9th Cir. 2015)||2015 WL 3542707 (9th Cir. 2015)||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.||Case|
|U.S. v. Zak||486 F.Supp.2d 208 (D.Mass., 2007)||2007 WL 1427442 (D.Mass.)||
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.”
|United States v. Sandia||188 F.3d 1215 (10th Cir 1999)||
This case was vacated by the Tenth Circuit in the Hardman order. Defendant in this case sold golden eagle skins to undercover agents in New Mexico. On appeal, defendant contended that the district court failed to consider the facts under a RFRA analysis. The Tenth Circuit disagreed, finding that defendant never claimed that his sale of eagle parts was for religious purposes and that the sale of eagle parts negates a claim of religious infringement on appeal. For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion.