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United States v. Canal Barge Co.

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20065
Nos. Nos. 09-5388 et al., (6th Circ. , 01/07/2011)

The Sixth Circuit held that a lower court erred in acquitting defendants convicted for violating the Ports and Waterways Safety Act in connection with a benzene leak from a barge in the Mississippi River. The defendants were convicted for failing to immediately notify the U.S. Coast Guard of a hazardous condition aboard a vessel. The lower court held that the PWSA violation was a point-in-time offense that occurred on the Mississippi River prior to entry into the Western District of Kentucky—the jurisdiction of the lower court. It therefore dismissed the case for improper venue. But the crime is a continuing offense rather than a point-in-time offense. Accordingly, the location of the crime continued into the Western District of Kentucky as the vessel in question proceeded up the Mississippi River. In addition, the defendants are not entitled to a judgment of acquittal on the remaining grounds presented to the lower court because the evidence was sufficient to establish the elements of the PWSA offense beyond a reasonable doubt.