Thursday, November 14, 2013

U.S. v. Kapp case brief

U.S. v. Kapp case brief
419 F.3d 666

CASE SYNOPSIS: Defendant was convicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, of violating and conspiring to violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S.C.S. § 1531 et seq., and the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C.S. § 3371 et seq. He appealed his conviction and sentence.

FACTS: Defendant bought, killed, and sold live exotic animals and their hides and meat, including tigers and leopards, which were protected under the ESA. He argued that the evidence had been insufficient to convict since the government had not proved through genetic evidence that the tigers were not ligers (lion-tiger hybrids) or other non-protected hybrids. 

  • The appellate court disagreed. 
  • The government's expert identified all but one specimen as tigers or leopards; she rejected the possibility that the tigers could have been hybrids. 
  • Moreover, defendant had always referred to the animals as tigers or leopards, not as hybrids. 
  • As all subspecies of tiger (including inter-subspecific crosses) were protected, the expert did not need to be able to identify the subspecies of a certain hide. 
  • The evidence supporting defendant's ESA convictions supported his Lacey Act convictions. 
  • Admitting mounted tigers and leopards into evidence did not violate Fed. R. Evid. 403, as they were not unduly inflammatory. 
  • But as defendant was sentenced before the Booker decision, the appellate court needed to know if the trial court would have imposed the same sentence knowing the guidelines were not mandatory.
CONCLUSION: The appellate court affirmed defendant's conviction, but ordered a limited remand to determine whether he had to be resentenced in light of Booker.

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