U.S. First Circuit - The FindLaw 1st Circuit Court of Appeals News and Information Blog

Beetle Invasion Opinion Pays Homage to British Invasion

Do you get excited when a character in a show or movie says the name of the show or movie even though it just doesn't make sense? If so, and you like the Beatles, you'll likely get a big kick out of the First Circuit's opinion in the Evans v. USA case.

Judge Bruce Seyla, in writing the opinion in a case that loosely relates to the invasion of the Asian Longhorn Beetle, the jurist makes numerous references to the Beatles and how the band caused so much chaos during the British Invasion they spawned the phrase "Beatlemania." And while the appellant in the case may not find the catachresis as cute as an objective observer, Judge Seyla went to great lengths to explain why the appellant lost every claim.

Squashing Bugs

The case underlying the stretched pop culture references involves a landowner whose trees were cut down without his permission due to the dangers posed by the infestation of Asian Longhorn Beetles. In order to help prevent the spread of these beetles, a quarantine order was issued, and the government was authorized to enter onto the lands of private land owners and cut down trees that these beetles use as breeding grounds and nests.

While Evans, the land owner in this case, did not contest that the government was authorized to remove the trees due to the emergency nature of the infestation, he filed suit because it did not seek his permission before their removal. He contended that the government's action of seeking permission prior to entering was not discretionary, but rather, due to the language in a letter sent to the land owners, it was mandatory. However, the district and appellate courts both found that the government was not obligated to seek permission, and as the government explained, had only done so as a courtesy.

Judges Writing Whimsically

Judge Selya's whimsical Beatles references seem to be isolated within section headings that function as transitions of sorts. 

The first section is titled "THE BEETLES" and is followed by a section called "Norwegian Wood" where the actual beetle infestation is explained. The next section, titled "Come Together" describes how the government decided to take action as a result of the infestation. Following that, Evans is introduced in the section headed "Here comes the sun." Discussion of the merits is found in the section titled "We can work it out" and the conclusion upholding the lower court is under the section heading "Let it be."

Now Judge Selya may just want to make sure that Evans doesn't turn out to be a descendant of the famous Maxwell who owned the judge killing silver hammer.

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