Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It might not be a crime today, but check back tomorrow

Should violating federal regulations relating to the import and sale of orchids result in a criminal conviction? Is there a need for armed federal agents to conduct exhaustive searches for paperwork related to the import and sale of orchids? Was justice served by imprisoning a 66-year-old Texas man for not filling out all of the forms required by los federales?

That's exactly what happened to Spring resident George Norris in 2004. As a result of not dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" when importing and selling orchids, Mr. Norris ran afoul of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mr. Norris subsequently spent two years in federal prison for committing an act that scarcely rises to the level of criminal activity.

Most criminal acts in Texas require some sort of culpable mental state - such as intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently. There are but a handful of so-called "strict liability" crimes in Texas -- the most prominent being driving while intoxicated.

Los federales, on the other hand, carry scads of strict liability crimes on the books -- many of which are aimed at companies who violate environmental regulations.

Strict liability has its place -- in the civil courthouse.


Anonymous said...

I guess he'll have to undergo Orchid Offender counseling and be placed on the Orchid Offender Registry. I feel so safe, now.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

It's too bad they didn't have the Orchid DIVERT program in place.