Appellate court ruling: State not responsible for whooping crane deaths

Victoria Advocate

Dec. 16, 2014 at 12:03 p.m.

By Sara Sneath 

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that it will not reconsider the finding that the state environmental agency is not at fault for the death of 23 whooping cranes.

But a dissenting opinion argues that the 5th Circuit judges should not have reconsidered the facts of the case – only the procedure. The dissent lays out a blueprint for how environmentalists might get their case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, said Jim Blackburn, who represents the group that filed suit against four Texas Commission on Environmental Quality officials.

“If uncorrected by this Court en banc or the Supreme Court, this decision, and others like it, sends a clear message to litigants: If you don’t like the factual findings of a district court, the doors of our Court are wide open to endless retrials on appeal,” wrote Circuit Judge Edward Prado in his dissent.

The environmental group has 90 days from the issuance of the majority opinion to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Blackburn said he would spend the allotted time polishing up the appeal.

The Supreme Court receives about 10,000 requests to hear cases every year, and only about 80 of those requests are granted.

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