Environment Convictions for July 2013

Number Latest Month 24
Percent Change from previous month -35.1
Percent Change from 1 year ago -39.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -53.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -37.9
Table 1: Criminal Environment Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during July 2013 the government reported 24 new environment convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 35.1% 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 (-39.7 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 53.7 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 37.9 percent instead of 53.7 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 July 2013 was for "Environ-Environmental Crimes", accounting for 66.7 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Environ-Wildlife Protection" (29.2%), " Environ-Marine Resources" (4.2%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for environment convictions in July 2013 was EPA accounting for 42 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of environment convictions were: Interior (25% ), DHS (17%), Agri (8%), Commerce (8%). 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 July 2013, 4 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 July 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 25 percent of all magistrate convictions in July.

Environment Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In July 2013, 20 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during July 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 July.

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 July 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 4 1 More
16 USC 3372 - Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts 3 2 More
16 USC 703 - Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds 2 3 More
18 USC 1519 - Destruct, alter, falsify records in fed. investigations and bankruptcy 2 3 More
33 USC 1319 - Water Pollution - Enforcement 2 3 More
33 USC 1908 - Prevention of Pollution from Ships - Penalties 2 3 More
42 USC 7413 - Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd 2 3 More
07 USC 2156 - Animal Fighting Venture Prohibited 1 8 More
33 USC 1311 - Effluent limitations - Water Pollution 1 8 More
42 USC 7412 - Nat'l emission standards hazardous air pollutants 1 8 More
Table 2: Top charges for convictions

  • "Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 371) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 3372.

  • Ranked 3rd were "Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds" under Title 16 U.S.C Section 703, "Destruct, alter, falsify records in fed. investigations and bankruptcy" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1519, "Water Pollution - Enforcement" under Title 33 U.S.C Section 1319 , "Prevention of Pollution from Ships - Penalties" under Title 33 U.S.C Section 1908 and "Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd" under Title 42 U.S.C Section 7413.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In July 2013 the Justice Department said the government obtained 7.8 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  
Miss, S 3 1 More
N. Y., N 3 1 More
La, E 2 3 More
N. J. 2 3 More
Ohio, S 2 3 More
S Dakota 2 3 More
Cal, S 1 7 More
Hawaii 1 7 More
Idaho 1 7 More
Mich, W 1 7 More
Penn, E 1 7 More
Puer Rico 1 7 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson) and Northern District of New York (Syracuse)—with 3 convictions—were the most active during July 2013.

  • Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans), District of New Jersey, Southern District of Ohio (Cincinnati) and District of South Dakota 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 July 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Hurd, David N. N. Y., N 3 1 More
Bramlette, David C., III Miss, S 2 2 More
Wigenton, Susan Davis N. J. 2 2 More
Watson, Michael H. Ohio, S 2 2 More
Simko, John E. S Dakota 2 2 More
Hayes, William Q. Cal, S 1 6 More
Kobayashi, Leslie Emi Hawaii 1 6 More
Winmill, B. Lynn Idaho 1 6 More
Duval, Stanwood R., Jr. La, E 1 6 More
Zainey, Jay C. La, E 1 6 More
Neff, Janet T. Mich, W 1 6 More
Gex, Walter J., III Miss, S 1 6 More
Rufe, Cynthia M. Penn, E 1 6 More
Delgado-Colon, Aida M. Puer Rico 1 6 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

All 14 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 14 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge David N. Hurd in the Northern District of New York (Syracuse) ranked 1st with 3 convicted in environment convictions.

  • Judges David C. Bramlette, III in the Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson), Susan Davis Wigenton in the District of New Jersey, Michael H. Watson in the Southern District of Ohio (Cincinnati) and John E. Simko in the District of South Dakota ranked 2nd with 2 convicted in environment convictions.

Report Generated: September 23, 2013
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