A citizen filled a suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against a county in the state of Florida. Invoking a vicarious-liability theory, the plaintiffs alleged that the county’s “refusal ... to ban beachfront artificial light sources that adversely impact sea turtles” violated the ESA’s “take” prohibition. Indeed, sea turtle hatchlings suffering from disorientation due to artificial lighting. The Court agreed with the county that it could not be considered the cause of takes produced through lack of enforcement in Ormond Beach and New Smyrna—because the county did not possess the legal authority to enforce municipal ordinances— Yet, the court held that the plaintiffs had established causation vis-à-vis the county based on the county’s regulatory action.
These appeals from convictions for conspiracy to import raw African elephant ivory in violation of the African Elephant Conservation Act ("AECA"), 16 U.S.C. § 4223(1), violations of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. § 1538(c)(1), and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 703 and 707(a), challenge the jury instructions as being erroneous and incomplete with respect to the AECA, and the verdicts regarding the other wildlife statutes as being contrary to the evidence and jury instructions.
The district court instructed that general intent was all that was required to violate the AECA, omitted relevant exceptions to that statute, and instructed that the household effects exception applied to all of the statutes. Because we conclude that the district court's AECA jury instructions were erroneous and incomplete and that the jury's verdicts as to the other wildlife statutes were contrary to the jury instructions and evidence, the Court reverses and remands with instructions to grant the motions for judgments of acquittal. (Provided by: UNODC SHERLOC)