by John M. Simpson.
In Center for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt, ___ F.3d ___, No. 19-5152 (D.C. Cir. June 16, 2020), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently affirmed a district court’s rejection of a challenge by animal rights groups to a decision by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to withdraw blanket findings as to whether the importation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of certain sport trophies of “threatened” species taken in other countries would enhance the survival and not be detrimental to the survival of those species. Continue reading Animal Rights Challenge to FWS Sport Trophy Decision Fails in D.C. Circuit
by John M. Simpson.
A U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia recently dismissed a lawsuit brought under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the federal Administrative Procedure Act by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) against the Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Center for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt, No. 18-2576 (RC) (D.D.C. Feb. 12, 2020). CBD asserted that FWS’s guidelines for species-specific species status assessments (SSA’s) were issued without the requisite notice and comment. The guidelines for species-specific SSA’s provide an analytical framework for the agency’s listing and critical habitat decisions under the ESA. The court dismissed the case for lack of Article III standing. Continue reading D.C. District Court Dismisses Endangered Species Act Case for Lack of Article III Standing
by Michelle C. Pardo
You may have heard the well-known proverb, “a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client.” It stands for the concept that while individuals in our country are free to represent him or herself in a criminal or civil trial – acting pro se – many caution that this is not the wisest course.
The issue is even more precarious when an attorney attempts to participate as a fact witness in a case he or she has brought. Rule 3.7 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (a rule substantially echoed in many jurisdictions) states that “[a] lawyer shall not act as advocate at a trial in which the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness.” This rule applies absent certain narrow circumstances, such as the testimony relates to an uncontested issue or the nature and value of legal services. The reason for the rule is straightforward: combining roles of advocate and witness can prejudice the court and the opposing party and create a conflict of interest between lawyer and client.
Friends of Animals, an animal rights organization headquartered in Connecticut, recently was called out by a federal judge in Oregon when its in-house counsel, Michael Harris, tried to serve as a declarant in support of Friends of Animals’ summary judgment motion. The declaration was intended to establish the requisite “injury in fact” for Friends of Animals’ members to establish a critical element of “standing” – the threshold inquiry that permits a litigant to have an injury remedied by the federal courts. Continue reading The Pitfalls of Serving as Activist Attorney and Client: Should We Give A Hoot?
by John M. Simpson
On July 19, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced three proposed rulemakings that would revise the regulations pursuant to which the Services have implemented the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These initiatives were the result of public comments solicited by the Services in response to Executive Order 13777, 82 Fed. Reg. 31576 (July 7, 2017), which sought comments on how federal agencies could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of federal regulations and the regulatory process. Continue reading Wildlife Agencies Announce Proposed Endangered Species Act Regulations