Environment Convictions for January 2013

Number Latest Month 41
Percent Change from previous month 24.2
Percent Change from 1 year ago -21.6
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -6.1
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) 1.8
Table 1: Criminal Environment Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during January 2013 the government reported 41 new environment convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 24.2% 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 (-21.6 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 6.1 percent from levels reported in 2008.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

Figure 1: Monthly trends in environment convictions

The leveling out 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 January 2013 was for "Environ-Wildlife Protection", accounting for 56.1 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Environ-Environmental Crimes" (43.9%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for environment convictions in January 2013 was Interior accounting for 59 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of environment convictions were: EPA (29% ), DHS (10%), FBI (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 January 2013, 11 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 January 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 45.5 percent of all magistrate convictions in January.

Environment Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In January 2013, 30 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during January 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 January.

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 January 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
16 USC 3372 - Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts 8 1 More
33 USC 1319 - Water Pollution - Enforcement 5 2 More
16 USC 703 - Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds 4 3 More
33 USC 1908 - Prevention of Pollution from Ships - Penalties 4 3 More
42 USC 6928 - Hazardous Waste Management - Federal Enforcement 2 5 More
42 USC 7412 - Nat'l emission standards hazardous air pollutants 2 5 More
42 USC 7413 - Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd 2 5 More
18 USC 545 - Smuggling goods into the United States 1 8 More
18 USC 1001 - Fraud/false statements or entries generally 1 8 More
33 USC 1317 - Toxic and pretreatment effluent standards 1 8 More
Table 2: Top charges for convictions

  • "Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts" (Title 16 U.S.C Section 3372) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Water Pollution - Enforcement" under Title 33 U.S.C Section 1319.

  • Ranked 3rd were "Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 703 and "Prevention of Pollution from Ships - Penalties" under Title 33 U.S.C Section 1908.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In January 2013 the Justice Department said the government obtained 11.7 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  
S Dakota 5 1 More
La, E 3 2 More
Wisc, E 3 2 More
Alaska 2 4 More
D. C. 2 4 More
Iowa, S 2 4 More
La, W 2 4 More
Montana 2 4 More
Ark, E 1 9 More
Cal, C 1 9 More
Cal, S 1 9 More
Conn 1 9 More
Fla, S 1 9 More
Mo, W 1 9 More
N Car, W 1 9 More
N. J. 1 9 More
W Virg, S 1 9 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The District of South Dakota—with 5 convictions—was the most active during January 2013.

  • The Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans) and Eastern District of Wisconsin (Milwaukee) ranked 2nd.

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 January 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Kornmann, Charles B. S Dakota 3 1 More
Griesbach, William C. Wisc, E 3 1 More
Beistline, Ralph R. Alaska 2 3 More
Howell, Beryl Alaine D. C. 2 3 More
Haik, Richard T., Sr La, W 2 3 More
Haddon, Sam E. Montana 2 3 More
Duffy, Veronica L. S Dakota 2 3 More
Holmes, J[ames] Leon Ark, E 1 8 More
Wright, Otis D., II Cal, C 1 8 More
Battaglia, Anthony M. Cal, S 1 8 More
Arterton, Janet Bond Conn 1 8 More
Lenard, Joan A. Fla, S 1 8 More
Barbier, Carl J. La, E 1 8 More
Fallon, Eldon E. La, E 1 8 More
Fenner, Gary A. Mo, W 1 8 More
Whitney, Frank DeArmon N Car, W 1 8 More
Hillman, Noel Lawrence N. J. 1 8 More
Chambers, Robert Charles W Virg, S 1 8 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

All 18 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 18 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judges Charles B. Kornmann in the District of South Dakota and William C. Griesbach in the Eastern District of Wisconsin (Milwaukee) ranked 1st with 3 convicted in environment convictions.

  • Judges Ralph R. Beistline in the District of Alaska, Beryl Alaine Howell in the District of Washington, D.C. (Washington), Richard T. Haik, Sr in the Western District of Louisiana (Shreveport), Sam E. Haddon in the District of Montana and Veronica L. Duffy in the District of South Dakota ranked 3rd with 2 convicted in environment convictions.

Report Generated: March 5, 2013
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