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US v. Canal Barge Co., 09-5388

By FindLaw Staff on January 07, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019
Dismissal for improper venue in conviction for violation of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act

US v. Canal Barge Co., 09-5388, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of defendants' motion for acquittal on the ground that the Ports and Waterways Safety Act (PWSA) violation was a point-in-time offense that was complete at the time the defendant failed to immediately notify the Coast Guard of the hazardous condition, which occurred on the Mississippi River prior to entry into the Western District of Kentucky, in a conviction of defendants for violation of the PWSA, arising from a benzene leak in the Mississippi River.

In reversing the judgment, the court held that the district court erred in acquitting defendants on the ground that there was no criminal venue in the Western District of Kentucky because the crime is a continuing offense rather than a point-in-time offense, and therefore the location of the crime continued into the Western District of Kentucky as the vessel in question proceeded from the Mississippi River to the Ohio.  However, the court held that defendants are not entitled to a judgment of acquittal on the remaining grounds presented to the district court because the evidence was sufficient to establish the elements of the PWSA offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Lastly, the court held that the district court also properly concluded that the defendants were not entitled to a new trial because the evidence did not preponderate heavily against the jury's finding that a hazardous condition existed aboard the barge.

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