Environment Prosecutions for October 2012

Number Latest Month 32
Percent Change from previous month -8.6
Percent Change from 1 year ago -35.5
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -51.8
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -39.7
Table 1: Criminal Environment Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during October 2012 the government reported 32 new environment prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 8.6% over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with 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 2012 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was down (-35.5 percent). Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 51.8 percent from levels reported in 2007.

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 prosecutions is 39.7 percent instead of 51.8 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 prosecutions

The decrease from the levels five years ago in environment prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of environment prosecutions 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 prosecutions of these matters in October 2012 was for "Environ-Environmental Crimes", accounting for 56.3 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Environ-Wildlife Protection" (34.4%), " Environ-Marine Resources" (9.4%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for environment prosecutions in October 2012 was Interior accounting for 38 percent of prosecutions referred. Other agencies with substantial numbers of environment referrals were: EPA (28% ), DHS (19%), Commerce (6%), Agri (3%). See Figure 3.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 3: Prosecutions by investigative agency

Environment Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In October 2012, 5 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 October the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 16 U.S.C Section 3372 involving the "Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts". This was the lead charge for 40 percent of all magistrate filings in October.

Environment Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In October 2012, 27 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during October 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 October.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of environment matters filed in U.S. District Court during October 2012.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
16 USC 704 - When/how migratory birds may be taken, killed,poss 5 1 More
33 USC 1319 - Water Pollution - Enforcement 5 1 More
18 USC 541 - Entry of goods falsely classified 3 3 More
16 USC 3372 - Illegally Taken Fish & Wildlife - prohibited acts 2 4 More
18 USC 545 - Smuggling goods into the United States 2 4 More
16 USC 1372 - Marine Mammal Protection - Prohibitions 1 6 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 1 6 More
18 USC 1512 - Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant 1 6 More
33 USC 407 - Deposit of refuse in navigable waters generally 1 6 More
33 USC 1311 - Effluent limitations - Water Pollution 1 6 More
33 USC 1321 - Oil and hazardous substance liability 1 6 More
33 USC 1908 - Prevention of Pollution from Ships - Penalties 1 6 More
42 USC 6928 - Hazardous Waste Management - Federal Enforcement 1 6 More
42 USC 7412 - Nat'l emission standards hazardous air pollutants 1 6 More
Table 2: Top charges filed

  • "When/how migratory birds may be taken, killed,poss" (Title 16 U.S.C Section 704) and "Water Pollution - Enforcement" (Title 33 U.S.C Section 1319) were the most frequent recorded lead charges.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Entry of goods falsely classified" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 541.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In October 2012 the Justice Department said the government brought 10.6 environment prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.

Understandably, there is great variation in the number of environment prosecutions that are filed in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

The districts registering the largest number of prosecutions of this type last month are shown in Table 3.


Judicial District Count Rank  
Cal, C 6 1 More
La, M 4 2 More
Ohio, N 3 3 More
Ala, M 1 4 More
Arizona 1 4 More
Cal, S 1 4 More
Fla, S 1 4 More
Ga, M 1 4 More
Mass 1 4 More
Montana 1 4 More
N Car, E 1 4 More
N. J. 1 4 More
Penn, W 1 4 More
Texas, S 1 4 More
W Virg, N 1 4 More
Wash, E 1 4 More
Wash, W 1 4 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The Central District of California (Los Angeles)—with 6 prosecutions—was the most active during October 2012.

  • The Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge) ranked 2nd.

  • Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) is 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 of this type during October 2012 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Jackson, Brian Anthony La, M 4 1 More
Adams, John R. Ohio, N 3 2 More
Capel, Wallace Ala, M 1 3 More
Bade, Bridget S. Arizona 1 3 More
Anderson, Percy Cal, C 1 3 More
Battaglia, Anthony M. Cal, S 1 3 More
Lenard, Joan A. Fla, S 1 3 More
Royal, C. Ashley Ga, M 1 3 More
Hillman, Timothy S. Mass 1 3 More
Haddon, Sam E. Montana 1 3 More
Flanagan, Louise W. N Car, E 1 3 More
Walls, William H. N. J. 1 3 More
McVerry, Terrence F. Penn, W 1 3 More
Gilmore, Vanessa D. Texas, S 1 3 More
Stamp, Frederick Pfarr, Jr. W Virg, N 1 3 More
Hutton, James P. Wash, E 1 3 More
Strombom, Karen L. Wash, W 1 3 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

All 17 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of environment filings . (Because of ties, there were a total of 17 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Brian Anthony Jackson in the Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge) ranked 1st with 4 defendants in environment cases.

  • Judge John R. Adams in the Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) ranked 2nd with 3 defendants in environment cases.

  • Judges Wallace Capel in the Middle District of Alabama (Montgomery), Bridget S. Bade in the District of Arizona, Percy Anderson in the Central District of California (Los Angeles), Anthony M. Battaglia in the Southern District of California (San Diego), Joan A. L enard in the Southern District of Florida (Miami), C. Ashley Royal in the Middle District of Georgia (Macon), Timothy S. Hillman in the District of Massachusetts, Sam E. Haddon in the District of Montana, Louise W. Flanagan in the Eastern Distr ranked 3rd with 1 defendants in environment cases.

Report Generated: February 6, 2013
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