Environment Convictions for March 2014

Number Latest Month 31
Percent Change from previous month 0.0
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -16.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) 9.9
Table 1. Criminal Environment Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during March 2014 the government reported 31 new environment convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is the same as in 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 2014 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of convictions was the same. 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 16.7 percent from levels reported in 2009.

Bar and line plot of FYMON

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 March 2014 was for "Environ-Environmental Crimes", accounting for 71 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Environ-Wildlife Protection" (25.8%), " Environ-Marine Resources" (3.2%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for environment convictions in March 2014 was EPA accounting for 61 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of environment convictions were: Interior (26% ), Agri (6%), DHS (3%), Local (3%). 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 March 2014, 3 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 March the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 16 U.S.C Section 703 involving "Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds". This was the lead charge for 66.7 percent of all magistrate convictions in March.

Environment Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In March 2014, 28 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during March 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 March.

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 March 2014.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
42 USC 7413 - Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd 8 1 More
33 USC 1319 - Water Pollution - Enforcement 5 2 More
42 USC 6928 - Hazardous Waste Management - Federal Enforcement 3 3 More
16 USC 703 - Taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds 2 4 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 2 4 More
18 USC 1853 - Public lands - Trees cut or injured 2 4 More
16 USC 1538 - Endangered Species - Prohibitive acts 1 7 More
16 USC 3372 - Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts 1 7 More
18 USC 1505 - Obstruction of proceedings before departments, etc 1 7 More
18 USC 2237 - Criminal Sanction for Failure to heave to or provide false information 1 7 More
33 USC 403 - Obstruction of navigable waters generally; etc 1 7 More
42 USC 7412 - Nat'l emission standards hazardous air pollutants 1 7 More
Table 2. Top Charges for Convictions

  • "Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd" (Title 42 U.S.C Section 7413) 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 was "Hazardous Waste Management - Federal Enforcement" under Title 42 U.S.C Section 6928.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In March 2014 the Justice Department said the government obtained 10.7 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  
Wash, W 4 1 More
Oregon 3 2 More
Delaware 2 3 More
Fla, S 2 3 More
N Mar Is 2 3 More
N. Y., W 2 3 More
Ohio, S 2 3 More
Alaska 1 8 More
Colorado 1 8 More
Fla, M 1 8 More
Ga, M 1 8 More
Ill, C 1 8 More
Mich, E 1 8 More
New Hamp 1 8 More
Ohio, N 1 8 More
S Dakota 1 8 More
Utah 1 8 More
Wyoming 1 8 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts

  • The Western District of Washington (Seattle) — with 4 convictions — was the most active during March 2014.

  • The District of Oregon ranked 2nd.

  • District of Delaware, Southern District of Florida (Miami), District of Northern Mariana Islands, Western District of New York (Buffalo) and Southern District of Ohio (Cincinnati) 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 March 2014 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Zilly, Thomas Samuel Wash, W 3 1 More
Andrews, Richard Gibson Delaware 2 2 More
Skretny, William M. N. Y., W 2 2 More
Marbley, Algenon L. Ohio, S 2 2 More
Coffin, Thomas M. Oregon 2 2 More
Beistline, Ralph R. Alaska 1 6 More
Moore, Raymond Paul Colorado 1 6 More
Frazier, Douglas N. Fla, M 1 6 More
Moore, Kevin Michael Fla, S 1 6 More
Williams, Kathleen Mary Fla, S 1 6 More
Royal, C. Ashley Ga, M 1 6 More
McCuskey, Michael Patrick Ill, C 1 6 More
O'Meara, John Corbett Mich, E 1 6 More
Laplante, Joseph Normand New Hamp 1 6 More
Nugent, Donald C. Ohio, N 1 6 More
McShane, Michael Jerome Oregon 1 6 More
Simko, John E. S Dakota 1 6 More
Campbell, Tena Utah 1 6 More
Leighton, Ronald B. Wash, W 1 6 More
Johnson, Alan Bond Wyoming 1 6 More
Table 4. Top Ten Judges

All 20 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 20 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Thomas Samuel Zilly in the Western District of Washington (Seattle) ranked 1st with 3 convicted in environment convictions.

  • Judges Richard Gibson Andrews in the District of Delaware, William M. Skretny in the Western District of New York (Buffalo), Algenon L. Marbley in the Southern District of Ohio (Cincinnati) and Thomas M. Coffin in the District of Oregon ranked 2nd with 2 convicted in environment convictions.

Report Generated: May 13, 2014
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