Makah judge won't dismiss illegal whaling case

A judge for the Makah Nation of Washington has refused to dismiss charges against three men who hunted a gray whale without tribal or federal approval.

Frankie Gonzales, Theron Parker and William Secor Sr. pleaded guilty in federal court to one misdemeanor count of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. They hoped the tribal charges against them would be dropped as a result.

But Chief Judge Stanley Meyers refused to do that. He ordered the three men, plus two other defendants -- Wayne Johnson and Andy Noel -- to stand trial for killing the whale last September.

Meyers, however, threw out the most serious charge in the case. He said the men can't be charged for violating the tribe's whale management plan because the plan expired in 2002.

Johnson and Noel were found guilty in federal court of conspiracy to violate the Marine Mammal Protection Act and unlawfully taking a marine mammal. They waived the right to a jury trial and plan to take their case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Get the Story:
Tribal judge rejects whalers' plea deal (The Seattle Times 4/19)
Tribal charge dismissed against Makah whalers (The Peninsula Daily News 4/20)

Relevant Documents:
Tribal Council Statement | Makah Tribal Whale Hunt | Marine Mammal Protection Act

Court Decisions:
Anderson v. Evans (June 7, 2004) | Anderson v. Evans (December 20, 2002)

Related Stories:
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Three Makah whalers plead guilty for illegal hunt (3/28)
Column: Respect Makah Nation's hunting rights (3/26)
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