Skip to comments.Sea Shepherd whale activists called pirates, lose ruling by 9th Circuit judges
Posted on 02/27/2013 11:05:06 AM PST by jazusamo
Video and slideshow at link.
A federal appeals court panel has branded a Northwest anti-whaling group "pirates," ordering a halt to attacks on Japanese whalers in Antarctic waters.
The outspoken opinion, which reads at times more like "Moby Dick" than a court decision, hands a victory to Miller Nash, a Portland law firm that took the controversial step of representing Japan's whale hunters .
The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals opinion issued late Monday is also unusual for ordering the transfer of a lower-court judge from the case, finding that U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones made "numerous, serious and obvious errors" in the ruling that generated the appeal.
The majority opinion of the three-judge panel continues an earlier injunction ordering Sea Shepherd Conservation Society activists to stay at least 500 yards away from Japanese whaling ships.
"You don't need a peg leg or an eye patch," wrote Chief Judge Alex Kozinski in the majority opinion. "When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be."
The opinion is a blow to Sea Shepherd, registered in Oregon and based in Friday Harbor, Wash., known for combating whaling on the high seas. It's a win in a continuing legal battle waged by the plaintiffs, which are led by the Institute of Cetacean Research , a Japanese foundation that cites a scientific-research exception to an international whaling ban.
But the opinion isn't shutting down Sea Shepherd, which continued clashes this week off Antarctica, claiming whalers rammed one of its vessels and deployed stun grenades and a water cannon.
Scott West, a Sea Shepherd spokesman, said that to comply with the appeals court's earlier injunction, the U.S. organization has separated itself from Sea Shepherd Australia, which is now operating the anti-whaling campaign.
"It's not us," West said. "We have separated ourselves from having anything to do with what's going on in Antarctica."
That argument doesn't wash with the Cetacean Institute, which filed suit in 2011 against Sea Shepherd and its president, Paul Watson, whom the judges' opinion describes as eccentric.
Gavin Carter, an institute spokesman in Washington, D.C., noted that Sea Shepherd split its branches after the panel of judges issued a preliminary injunction Dec. 17.
"I would imagine that the courts would be able to see through what they've done," Carter said. "The question now is whether the nations that are flagging the Sea Shepherd vessels, which are the Netherlands and Australia, are going to be willing to continue providing a flag for vessels that the U.S. courts have deemed to be engaging in acts of piracy."
The appeals court judges said their opinion should be taken not as an endorsement of whaling but as a signal that "violent vigilantism by U.S. nationals in international waters" is not condoned.
Judge Jones, a former prosecutor who is a half brother of musician Quincy Jones, has been presiding in Seattle in the case.
The Cetacean Institute appealed Jones' decisions to dismiss its piracy claims and to deny the foundation's request for an injunction against Sea Shepherd. Miller Nash lawyer John Neupert presented arguments in October, supported by his law partner, Chris Helmer.
In the latest opinion, Kozinski wrote that Jones erred in dismissing the piracy claims. "Damaging Cetacean's ships could cause them to sink or become stranded in glacier-filled Antarctic waters," he wrote, "jeopardizing the safety of the crew."
Kozinski wrote in the majority opinion that the case, should be transferred to another district judge, drawn at random, as the case continues in the courts.
But another panel member, Circuit Judge Milan Smith, dissented on that point, saying Jones would be able to put aside his previous views and follow the appeals court's requirements.
"The Sea Shepherds are pirates. Period," Smith wrote. "No district judge could fail to grasp the clarity and firmness of our opinion."
That’s true, I worded like the video was labeled.
Amen to that, it should have happened long ago.
I agree. No heroes on either side.
I was not directing it to you but more to the idiots that wrote the piece
No problem, FRiend!
“The outspoken opinion, which reads at times more like “Moby Dick” than a court decision...”
Gee, I have no idea what opinion the writer of the article holds on this.
the japanese are blatantly violating thge whaling treaty, and lying to us all they are not, and are upset we all don’t buy their lies.
the idiot libtard pirates are idiots and whine little little bitches about getting roughed up. if you want to be a pirate, you’re going to get roughed up in fights.
i personally would not mind both sides at the bottom of the ocean.
the liars are breaking international treaty law against whaling. they are lying they are only doing it for research. if they weren’ t lying they wouldn’t be breaking intl law. not everyone swallows their blatant lying.
I hear you. Remember this was printed in The Oregonian and they’re in the lib bastion of Portland. :-)
I could believe that to keep up the ruse, they "donate" the whale parts to people who use the parts for "nutrition" studies. In return, the study recipients donate monies for furtherance of the research, ie, killing more whales...
...but as I said, they need to kill each other to end this "standoff"...
I was thinking along the same lines. Now that they are officially pirates, it’s pretty much open season on them. I wonder what one of those harpoon cannon would do to the pilothouse?
Piracy on the high seas can be punished by any country, under an old legal doctrine called "universal jurisdiction." The doctrine goes back to Roman law, under which pirates were considered hostes humani generis, enemies of the entire human race.
US Constitution, Article I, Section 8:
"To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;"
Congress defined "piracy" and the Courts are simply upholding this Constitutional law and power.
They aren’t actually breaking a treat or a law. They’re breaking an agreement which has no force of law behind it on any level. They’re in an international group, which has no treaties behind it and is basically just a club, and they’re breaking one of the rules of the group.
I realize the Japanese are not Americans and thus may not in the minds of some be accorded the same assumption of innocence we enjoy here in America. So in your mind are they guilty before until proven innocent? You sure make it sound that way.
The ICRW makes an exception that whales can be taken for scientific purposes and that is what Japan claims it is doing. Until it is proven otherwise in a court of law they have not broken any laws. Conversely, the lawless band of hippie pirates have been found guilty on several counts; heck, they even brag about it. They risk peoples' lives. To my knowledge the Japanese whalers actions do not come close to doing that, unless, of course, you want to blame them for the hippies steering their boat in front of the larger ship. I don't.
Sure thing, comrade. Innocent until proven guilty apparently means nothing to you. So be it.