Environment Convictions for April 2013
Table 1: Criminal Environment Convictions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during April 2013 the government reported 44 new environment convictions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 76% over the previous month.
The comparisons of the number of defendants convicted for environment-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom
of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. (See Table 1)
When monthly 2013 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of convictions was down (-44.2 percent).
Convictions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that convictions of this type are down 34.9 percent from levels reported in 2008.
The dip in
these cases is partly related to increases in the matters filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. If magistrate cases
are excluded and only Federal District Court cases are counted, the overall decrease in
environment convictions is 22.9 percent instead of 34.9 percent.
The evidence suggests that part of the difference may be the result of improvements in the recording of the magistrate cases
by the Justice Department.
Figure 1: Monthly trends in environment convictions
The decrease from the levels five years ago in environment convictions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1.
The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of environment convictions of this type recorded on a month-to-month
basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court,
the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends.
The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so
that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.
Within the broad category of environment, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.
Case types within environment are
The largest number of convictions of these matters in April 2013 was for "Environ-Wildlife Protection", accounting for 54.5 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Environ-Environmental Crimes" (40.9%), "
Environ-Marine Resources" (4.5%).
See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for environment convictions in April 2013
was Interior accounting for 59 percent of convictions.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of environment convictions were:
EPA (23% ), DHS (11%), Agri (2%), Commerce (2%).
See Figure 3.
Figure 2: Specific types of convictions
Figure 3: Convictions by investigative agency
Environment Convictions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In April 2013, 10 defendants
in environment cases for these matters were
filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. These courts handle less serious
misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In
addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before
an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter
starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court
where subsequent proceedings take place.
In the magistrate courts in April the most frequently cited lead charge was
Title 16 U.S.C Section 703 involving the "Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds". This was the lead charge
for 90 percent of all magistrate convictions in April.
Environment Convictions in U.S. District Courts
In April 2013, 34 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during April there
were an additional 0 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate
courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information
was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and
therefore cover all matters filed in district court during April.
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the convictions of environment matters
filed in U.S. District Court during April 2013.
Table 2: Top charges for convictions
"Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds" (Title 16 U.S.C Section 703) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.
Ranked 2nd in frequency were the lead charges
"Environmental Pesticide Control - definitions" under Title 7 U.S.C Section 136, "When/how migratory birds may be taken, killed,poss" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 704, "Marine Mammal Protection - Prohibitions" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 1372, "Illegally
Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 3372, "Fraud/false statements or entries generally" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1001 and "Water Pollution - Enforcement" under Title 33 U.S.C Section 1319.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In April 2013 the Justice Department said the government obtained 13.3 environment convictions for every ten million people in the United States.
Understandably, there is great variation in the number of environment convictions in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
The districts registering the
largest number of convictions of this type last month are shown in Table 3.
Table 3: Top 10 districts
The District of Alaska and Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge)—with 5 convictions—were the most active during April 2013.
District of Nevada, District of South Dakota and Eastern District of Washington (Spokane) are now ranking 3rd.
Top Ranked District Judges
At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new environment crime cases resulting in convictions of this type
during April 2013 are shown in Table 4.
All 24 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of environment convictions . (Because of ties, there were a total of 24 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)
Report Generated: June 10, 2013