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Judge Kravitch of the Circuit Court of Appeals
Hayes International Corp. and Louis H. Beasley v. United States of America, 786 F.2d 1499 (11th Cir. 1986)
Circuit Judge Kravitch’s Opinion
The main issue in this appeal is the level of knowledge required for a conviction under 42 U.S.C. 6928(d)(1), unauthorized transportation of hazardous material. Despite the jury verdicts, the district court awarded acquittal judgements. The government had not produced enough evidence of knowing to support the convictions of Hayes International Corp. and L. H. Beasley, according to the court. We have done our own analysis of the evidence and find it sufficient. A district court decision striking aside a guilty jury verdict is due to no deference,… and we have performed our own review of the facts and find it sufficient. As a result, we reverse.
In Birmingham, Alabama, Hayes International Corp. (Hayes) maintains an airplane restoration plant. Hayes generates a number of waste products in the course of its operations, two of which are pertinent to this case. Hayes must first empty the gasoline tanks of the planes on which it operates.
Second, Hayes paints the plane with spray guns and cleans the paint guns and lines with solvents, resulting in a mixture of paint and solvents.
L. H. Beasley worked for Hayes and was in charge of hazardous waste disposal. Beasley orally agreed to dispose of some garbage with Jack Hurt, an employee of Performance Advantage, Inc., in early 1981. Under the terms of the arrangement, Performance Advantage would get from Hayes the precious jet fuel drained from the planes, pay twenty cents per gallon for the jet fuel, and remove other wastes from the Hayes factory at no cost, including a mixture of paint and solvents. Performance Advantage was a recycler that converted jet fuel into usable fuel. Between January 1981 and March 1982, waste was carried from Hayes to Performance Advantage eight times.
Government officials uncovered containers of garbage generated by Hayes and unlawfully disposed of by Performance Advantage beginning in August 1982. Approximately 600 garbage drums were discovered at seven unlawful waste disposal sites in Georgia and Alabama. The paint and solvent that Performance Advantage had removed from Hayes were the garbage.
Some of the drums were simply buried, while others were simply thrown in yards.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was used to prosecute the defendants in this case. To guarantee that hazardous wastes are appropriately disposed of, the Act establishes a cradle to grave regulatory structure. Waste generators must identify hazardous waste and utilize a manifest system to ensure that wastes are only disposed of in facilities that have been granted a permit.
The regulation scheme specifies two procedures for determining whether or not a waste is dangerous. If a waste appears on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of hazardous wastes, it is considered harmful. Subpart D of the 40 C.F.R. contains the list. If a trash has particular properties, it is also dangerous. Subpart C of the 40 C.F.R. specifies these qualities. Because of its ignitability, the mixture of paint waste and solvent in this circumstance was classified as a typical waste.
Beasley and Hayes were each found guilty of eight counts of violating 42 U.S.C. 6928(d)(1), which states that anyone who (1) knowingly transports any hazardous waste identified or listed under this subchapter to a facility that does not have a permit under section 6925 of this title faces criminal penalties.
Hayes’ culpability is predicated on Beasley’s acts. It’s undeniable that Performance Advantage lacked a permit.
The appellees present three key defense arguments in their request for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and on appeal, arguing that the government’s evidence was insufficient to reject any of them. They first claim that they did not commit any “knowing” violations because they misinterpreted the rules. Second, they claim that they were unaware that Performance Advantage lacked a permit. Third, they claim they did not violate the law knowingly because they thought Performance Advantage was recycling the material. Typical hazardous waste was not controlled under the legislation in effect at the time if it was beneficially used or re-used [sic] or lawfully recycled or reclaimed. …………………………
[T] We must first assess the substance of the criminal crime in order to properly evaluate the appellees’ arguments.
II. THE ELEMENTS OF AN OFFENSE UNDER SECTION 6928(d)
In section 6928, Congress did not provide any clarity on the meaning of “knowing,” either in the statute or in the legislative history (d). Indeed, Congress declared that it did not seek to define knowing’ for violations under subsection (d); that process has been left to the courts under general principles. We resort to a few examples from a long line of Supreme Court rulings examining the necessary elements of regulatory violations to determine the appropriate basic principles.
Is it necessary to be familiar with the regulations?
In other situations, the Court has ruled that an offense just requires requisite actions rather than a mental element. The defendant in United States v. Freed was charged with breaching a legislation that made it illegal to receive or possess a handgun that is not registered to him. …………………………
The Court decided that no element of scienter was required for conviction; a person did not even have to be aware that the grenades were unregistered to be convicted. The Court reasoned that the Act did not include a mental element and that it was a regulatory measure in the interest of public safety, which may be based on the notion that possessing hand grenades is not an innocent act.
The Supreme Court has had more trouble with statutes that constitute a crime of “knowingly breaching a regulation.” The defendant was charged with knowingly breaching an I.C.C. regulation in United States v. International Minerals & Chemical Corp. Hazardous materials could not be shipped unless they were declared on the shipping papers. The defendant’s knowledge of the regulation was not an element of the offense, according to the Court; the word “knowingly” in the statute merely referred to the defendant’s knowledge that the materials were 2
The items that were shipped were hazardous. The Court acknowledged that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but reasoned that the likelihood of regulation is so substantial in the case of toxic waste products that anyone who is aware that he is in possession of or dealing with them must be believed to be aware of the regulation.
[S]ection 6928(d)(1) is obviously a public welfare act, involving a highly regulated field with significant public health and safety implications. As the Supreme Court has stated, charging people who choose to operate in such regions with awareness of the regulatory regulations is perfectly fair and reasonable. In this case, the reasonableness is confirmed out by the evidence at trial, which contradicted the appellees’ claim of ignorance. As a result, claiming ignorance of the paint waste being a hazardous waste within the meaning of the regulations, or ignorance of the permit requirement, would not be a defense in a prosecution under 42 U.S.C. 6928(d)(1).
Is it necessary to be aware of the permit status?
The government claims that knowing the permission status of the facility to which the wastes are carried is not required under the Act. The Supreme Court has pointed out that statutes written in the same way as section 6928(d) are linguistically ambiguous: it’s hard to tell how far down the sentence “knowingly” goes.
The congressional objective in this case shows that knowledge of the permit status is essential.
Transportation to an unregistered facility was the exact mistake Congress sought to address with section 6928(d). The removal of the knowledge requirement from this factor would penalize otherwise lawful action, such as if the defendant reasonably believed the site had a permit but was mislead by the site’s personnel. In establishing that the defendant acted with knowledge of the permit status, the government does not bear an unreasonable burden of proof. A defendant acts deliberately if he is aware that that result is fairly probable to follow from his behavior, whatever his preference may be relative to that conclusion. ………………………… Furthermore, a defendant acts intentionally in this regulatory context if he willfully fails to determine the facility’s permit status.
Furthermore, the government may use circumstantial evidence to prove guilty knowledge. ………………………… Proving knowledge should not be difficult in the context of hazardous waste laws. The statute in question outlines particular procedures that waste transporters must follow to ensure that waste is only transferred to permitted facilities. Waste transporters are likely aware of these processes, and if a transporter fails to follow them, a juror may make certain conclusions. Jurors may make additional inferences if there is no proof that individuals who took the garbage claimed to be duly permitted. Jurors may also analyze the transaction’s conditions and terms. It is general knowledge that properly disposing of wastes is a costly job, and if someone is ready to carry wastes for an exceptional fee or under unusual conditions, a jury can infer that the transporter is aware that the wastes will not be transferred to a permit facility.
In summary, jurors must determine that the defendant knew what the waste was (here, a mixture of paint and solvent) and that the defendant knew the disposal site lacked a permit to convict under section 6928(d)(1). Jurors may make inferences from all of the facts, including the existence of the regulatory structure. 3
Now we’ll look at the three defenses raised by the appellants. The first is only a legal blunder defense. They claim that they had a good faith notion that any garbage given to a recycler would be exempt from the restrictions, regardless of whether the material was recycled or not. As shown in the preceding paragraph, ignorance of the regulatory status is not an excuse. There is no doubt that the appellees were aware that the garbage contained a mixture of paint and solvents, and that the mixture was a hazardous waste. As a result, the jury found the appellees guilty of knowingly transporting hazardous waste based on the evidence.
The appellees’ second position is that the evidence was insufficient to establish that they were aware that Performance Advantage lacked a permit. When we look at the evidence, we see it through the eyes of the government, drawing all reasonable conclusions in favor of the jury’s decision. The evidence reveals that Hayes failed to follow the regulatory procedure for manifesting garbage transferred to a permit site, implying that the appellees did not believe Performance Advantage had a permission. Hayes’ own documents, which state this requirement, support this conclusion. Performance Advantage was also not charging to cart away the waste (despite the fact that they evidently saw the whole agreement as advantageous), and Beasley believed he had gotten a good deal; as a result, the terms were suspicious.
The appellees depend on Hurt’s evidence that he had an EPA “number” but couldn’t remember whether he gave it to Beasley. The jury may have concluded that Hurt did not give Beasley the EPA “number” by drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor. Furthermore, the “number” was not a permit, and the jury may have deduced that Beasley did not believe the number indicated a valid permit. As a result, the jury could have concluded that Performance Advantage did not claim to be a permit facility. Based on the foregoing, a jury may have decided beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellees were aware that Performance Advantage lacked a permit.
The final defense offered by the appellees is that they assumed Performance Advantage was recycling the garbage. We accept the theory of this mistake of fact defense right away. In United States v. International Minerals, a case addressing the knowing export of harmful chemicals, the Supreme Court said that a person who believed in good faith that he was transporting distilled water when he was actually shipping some dangerous acid would not be covered. If the wastes had been recycled in this situation, there would have been no violation of the Act.
As a result, a good faith conviction that the materials were recycled is akin to International Minerals’ good faith assumption that the acid was actually water.
However, we feel there is enough evidence for the jury to have rejected the defense of factual error. To begin, we should point out that the exception only applies if the material was recycled in the first place…. As a result, the defense must have a good faith conviction that the garbage was recycled. Furthermore, the government was not obligated to refute the appellees’ claim of factual error. The government does not need to refute every plausible theory of innocence; instead, it only needs to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt…. Three pieces of evidence could have led the jury to reject the mistake of fact defense in this instance.
The first is the negotiation process that resulted in the agreement. At trial, Jack Hurt, the individual who negotiated the transaction for Performance Advantage, testified. In late 1980 or early 1981, he contacted Beasley about obtaining jet fuel from Hayes. Following Hurt’s inquiry into “what it would take” to get the right to purchase jet fuel, the parties agreed that Performance Advantage would remove a weight of 4 tons.
They will take the paint wastes for free and try to run them through their system to produce gasoline. Performance Advantage was offered a contract in which it would get jet fuel for twenty cents per gallon in exchange for hauling away the paint waste. The paint waste was subsequently transported to the Performance Advantage plant in thirty drums. Hurt was not in charge of the plant’s test run, but his boss, Lyn Bolton, told him to see if Performance Advantage could get the jet fuel without the paint waste. Hurt then informed Beasley that Bolton did not want the paint waste, to which Beasley answered, “He loved the deal the way it was; to take it all.” After that, Bolton decided to take both the paint waste and the jet fuel. The jury may have formed clear conclusions from the aforesaid testimony. Beasley was aware that Performance Advantage had tested the paint sludge in its recycling system and that, as a result of the test, Performance Advantage did not want the paint sludge, even if it was provided free of charge. If it had been desirable for Performance Advantage to send the garbage through its system, it would not have objected to an arrangement in which it received the waste for free. As a result of this interaction, the jury could infer that Beasley was aware that Performance Advantage did not intend to recycle the paint waste.
Internal records from Hayes were the second form of evidence used to prove appellees’ awareness. A compliance communication from Hayes official Charles Reymann to Beasley, for example, stated: Hazardous trash with no resale value that must be disposed of shall be taken to an EPA-approved disposal site. An EPA interim permit number is required for both the hauler and the disposal site. To identify the materials moved, the transporter, and the disposal site, a manifest must be employed. The disposal site operator must return a copy of the manifest to Hayes.
Beasley knew the paint waste had no market value because the evidence proved that Performance Advantage did not want it, even if it was free. Wastes with no resale value were to be transferred to EPA-approved sites, according to the memorandum, and manifests were to be used to certify disposal. Beasley’s violation of business procedures could lead the jury to believe he knew the garbage disposal was improper. The documented evidence also demonstrated that Beasley was responsible for the correct disposal of the garbage; the jury could infer that because it was Beasley’s business to know what happened to the waste, he did know.
Third, Hurt and Beasley’s following interactions dispelled any doubts about Beasley’s belief that the wastes were being recycled. Beasley and Hurt addressed the agreement six months after the first shipment, on August 1, 1981, and Beasley indicated, “It was an excellent business transaction for them; that they appreciated it; that he had saved the company some money.”
Hurt related a conversation that was considerably more damaging:
Q: Did Mr. Beasley ask what was being done with the waste when you were handling it and transporting it from Hayes to Performance Advantage?
A: Thank you, sir.
Q: Did he ask on a single time or on several occasions?
A: Most likely more than one.
Q: So, what did you say to him?
A: I told him it went to the plant, that it wasn’t my concern what they did with it down there, and that it might be in that lake or pond or buried anyplace out there on a thousand acres. One of the owners in Performance Advantage owned about a thousand acres, and it could be down there wherever. I had no idea.
Beasley’s knowledge is evident in these exchanges. Beasley’s conviction that having Performance Advantage take the waste for free was a good bargain demonstrates that he was aware that properly disposing of the waste would cost Hayes money, and that he was also aware that the waste was not recyclable. Hurt mentioned a variety of waste disposal options in the second conversation, notably avoiding recycling. From these talks, the jury could infer that Beasley did not believe the material was being recycled.
The appellees claim that any inferences a jury might draw from this exchange would only apply to shipments that occurred after the conversation. We don’t agree. Despite being advised that the garbage would be disposed of rather than recycled, Beasley continued to ship waste to Performance Advantage, indicating that the arrangement was never based on waste recycling. As a result, we get at the conclusion that the inferences would support a conviction for shipping both before and after the conversation.
The acquittal decisions, notwithstanding the verdict, for both defendants are reversed. The matter is remanded to the district court for entry of judgment based on the guilty jury verdicts.
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Review of relevant theoretical literature is evident, but there is no integration of studies into concepts related to problem. Review is partially focused and organized. Supporting and opposing research are not included in the summary of information presented. Conclusion does not contain a biblical integration.
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Judge Kravitch of the Circuit Court of Appeals
Judge Kravitch of the Circuit Court of Appeals