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United States v. Cruthers

Citation: 5 ELR 20706
No. No. 75-1833, 523 F.2d 1306/(9th Cir., 09/29/1975)

The defendant was convicted of theft of government property for cutting trees on his unpatented mining claim and using them to construct a residential cabin on adjacent private property (his patented claim), assertedly in violation of 30 U.S.C. § 612(c), which prohibits cutting or removal of timber on unpatented claims except to the extent required to uses "reasonably incident to" or "in connection" with legitimate mining operations involving such claims. Since the statute does not purport to limit the place where such timber may be used, the district court erred to the defendant's substantial prejudice by instructing the jury that "a claimant to an unpatented claim may not cut or remove trees or logs for any purpose on private property." The conviction must be set aside; case reversed and remanded.

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellee
Donald H. Heller, Asst. U.S. Attorney
650 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, Calif. 95814

Counsel for Defendant-Appellant
E. Richard Walker, Federal Public Defender
650 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, Calif. 95814

Browning, Wallace & Williams,* JJ.