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Arson Conviction Reversed, and Environmental Matter

By FindLaw Staff on September 16, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Hapner v. Tidwell, No. 09-35896, an action under the National Environmental Policy Act, challenging the Smith Creek Project in the Gallatin National Forest to reduce the risks of severe wildfire, insect infestation, and disease, as well as to promote habitat diversity, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendants in part where the Forest Service's risk reduction calculations are supported by studies conducted in other regions, as well as by extensive modeling.  However, the court reversed in part where the Project violated the National Forest Management Act by failing to comply with the elk-cover requirement contained in the Gallatin National Forest Plan.

In US v. Waters, No. 08-30222, the court reversed defendant's convictions for arson, holding that 1) certain articles allegedly given to defendant should have been excluded from her trial, or at least limited, because they were highly prejudicial due to their advocacy of anarchy and violence; 2) the district court abused its discretion when it excluded a video of a peaceful demonstration made by defendant; and 3) the district court erred when it prevented defendant's cousin from testifying to the fact that defendant told him to tell the truth.

City of Emeryville v. Robinson, No. 09-15018, an action seeking to enforce a court-approved settlement that plaintiff negotiated with the City of Emeryville and the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency to resolve a lawsuit filed by Emeryville in 1999 pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the court affirmed the partial grant of plaintiff's motion where 1) 42 U.S.C. section 9613(f)(1) did not directly "provide" any protection against contribution claims, and cannot serve as the statutory basis for contribution protection referenced in the 2001 Settlement; and 2) the district court did not err in finding that the "good faith settlement" determination as to the 2001 Settlement was not a bar to the contribution claims asserted in the State Court Action.

Association of Am. Railroads v. S. Coast Air Qual. Mgmt., No. 07-55804, an action by railroads seeking to enjoin a local governmental agency's rules aimed at limiting the air pollution created by idling trains, the court affirmed judgment for plaintiffs where, because the agency's rules had the force and effect of state law, the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act preempted those rules because they were not rules of general applicability that did not unreasonably burden railroad activity.

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