Environment Convictions for April 2013

Number Latest Month 44
Percent Change from previous month 76.0
Percent Change from 1 year ago -44.2
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -34.9
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -22.9
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.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

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

  • Illegal Discharge of Toxic, Hazardous or Carcinogenic Waste

  • Wildlife Protection

  • Marine Resources

  • Environmental Crime

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.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of convictions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

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.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
16 USC 703 - Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds 4 1 More
07 USC 136 - Environmental Pesticide Control - definitions 3 2 More
16 USC 704 - When/how migratory birds may be taken, killed,poss 3 2 More
16 USC 1372 - Marine Mammal Protection - Prohibitions 3 2 More
16 USC 3372 - Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts 3 2 More
18 USC 1001 - Fraud/false statements or entries generally 3 2 More
33 USC 1319 - Water Pollution - Enforcement 3 2 More
33 USC 1311 - Effluent limitations - Water Pollution 2 8 More
33 USC 1908 - Prevention of Pollution from Ships - Penalties 2 8 More
14 USC 88 - Coast Guard - Saving Life and Property 1 10 More
16 USC 372 - Laws Operative in judicial district of Arkansas 1 10 More
16 USC 690 - Game and Bird Reserves - regulations, penalties 1 10 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 1 10 More
18 USC 2237 - Criminal Sanction for Failure to heave to or provide false information 1 10 More
42 USC 7413 - Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd 1 10 More
42 USC 7671 - Stratospheric Ozone Protection 1 10 More
46 USC 2302 - Operation of Vessels; Penalties for negligent op 1 10 More
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.

Judicial District Count Rank  
Alaska 5 1 More
La, M 5 1 More
Nevada 3 3 More
S Dakota 3 3 More
Wash, E 3 3 More
Ala, S 1 6 More
Arizona 1 6 More
Conn 1 6 More
Fla, S 1 6 More
Ga, M 1 6 More
Ill, S 1 6 More
Miss, S 1 6 More
N Car, E 1 6 More
N Car, M 1 6 More
N Car, W 1 6 More
N. Y., E 1 6 More
Oregon 1 6 More
Tenn, W 1 6 More
Texas, S 1 6 More
W Virg, S 1 6 More
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.

Judge Count Rank  
Du, Miranda Mai Nevada 3 1 More
Kornmann, Charles B. S Dakota 3 1 More
Van Sickle, Frederick L. Wash, E 3 1 More
Oravec, Scott A. Alaska 2 4 More
Brady, James J. La, M 2 4 More
Jackson, Brian Anthony La, M 2 4 More
Steele, William H. Ala, S 1 7 More
Beistline, Ralph R. Alaska 1 7 More
Longenbaugh, Leslie C. Alaska 1 7 More
Roberts, John D. Alaska 1 7 More
Wake, Neil Vincent Arizona 1 7 More
Eginton, Warren William Conn 1 7 More
Middlebrooks, Donald M. Fla, S 1 7 More
Royal, C. Ashley Ga, M 1 7 More
Gilbert, John Phil Ill, S 1 7 More
Polozola, Frank Joseph La, M 1 7 More
Bramlette, David C., III Miss, S 1 7 More
Dever, James C., III N Car, E 1 7 More
Reidinger, Martin Karl N Car, W 1 7 More
Amon, Carol Bagley N. Y., E 1 7 More
Hernandez, Marco Antonio Oregon 1 7 More
Todd, James Dale Tenn, W 1 7 More
Tagle, Hilda G. Texas, S 1 7 More
Copenhaver, John Thomas, Jr. W Virg, S 1 7 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

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.)

  • Judges Miranda Mai Du in the District of Nevada, Charles B. Kornmann in the District of South Dakota and Frederick L. Van Sickle in the Eastern District of Washington (Spokane) ranked 1st with 3 convicted in environment convictions.

Report Generated: June 10, 2013
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