April 08, 2008

Whalers quickly convicted

Judge Convicts 2 Makah in Whale HuntTwo Makah tribal members who led an unsanctioned gray whale hunt last September have been convicted of federal misdemeanor charges.

U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Kelley Arnold on Monday found Wayne Johnson and Andy Noel guilty after the pair waived their right to a jury trial and admitted their roles.

The two were convicted of conspiracy to violate the Marine Mammal Protection Act and unlawfully taking a marine mammal.

Defense attorneys say their clients agreed to waive the jury trial so they could get on with appealing some of the rulings made in the case, including one in which Arnold determined their actions were not protected under the First Amendment right to religious freedom.

He also had denied their motions to dismiss the charges based on the Makah tribe's treaty rights to hunt whales.

"There was no reason to go through a several-day jury trial when the jury wasn't going to be able to hear their defense," said Jack Fiander, Noel's attorney.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Makah Whale-Hunt Controversy.

No comments: