United States v. Sears, 061516 FED9, 15-50192
|Party Name:||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. JOHN C. SEARS, Defendant-Appellant.|
|Judge Panel:||Before: W. FLETCHER and GOULD, Circuit Judges and LEMELLE, Senior District Judge.|
|Case Date:||June 15, 2016|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit|
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
Argued and Submitted May 2, 2016 Pasadena, California
Appeal from the United States District Court No. 2:14-cr-00667-RGK-1 for the Central District of California R. Gary Klausner, District Judge, Presiding
Before: W. FLETCHER and GOULD, Circuit Judges and LEMELLE, [**] Senior District Judge.
Defendant-Appellant John Sears appeals the district court's order affirming the magistrate judge's finding that Sears was guilty of violating two National Park Service regulations. We affirm.
1. Sears's actions were not excused by the defense of necessity. In order to prevail on his necessity defense, Sears had to show (among other things) that he broke the law in order to "prevent imminent harm." United States v. Perdomo-Espana, 522 F.3d 983, 987 (9th Cir. 2008). Although Sears contends that he would have risked the "life and limb" of both himself and his mules if forced to leave the area where he was sleeping, the evidence undermines Sears's claim that leaving would have been unduly dangerous. Although it was dark, Sears had a flashlight. Furthermore, the path to the equestrian-based campsite was along the administrative road, not some untamed part of the wilderness.
Sears also failed to show that "there were no other legal alternatives to violating the law." Id. at 988. Sears had a clear legal alternative: he could have asked the rangers for assistance. The rangers could have accompanied Sears to the equestrian campsite, ensuring that he arrived unharmed. Depending on the equipment they had available, the rangers may have been able to transport Sears and his mules to the equestrian campsite or off national park property. We do know, based on what happened after Sears's arrest, that the rangers had access to a vehicle capable of transporting Sears's mules.
2. Sears's contention that the camping regulation contains a mens rea element also fails. While this Court maintains a "predilection towards reading an intent element into...
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