United States v. Wallen, No. 16-30033 (9th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The "good faith belief" defense for a prosecution under 16 U.S.C. 1540 is governed by a subjective, rather than an objective, standard, and is satisfied when a defendant actually, even if unreasonably, believes his actions are necessary to protect himself or others from perceived danger from a grizzly bear. The Ninth Circuit vacated defendant's conviction for killing three grizzly bears in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court held that defendant was not entitled to a jury trial; the magistrate judge, who served as the trier of fact at trial, misconceived the self-defense element of the offense, and that error was not harmless; likewise, the district court applied an objective test and the error was not harmless; and defendant was not entitled to a jury trial on remand.