Dismissal for improper venue in conviction for violation of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act
US v. Canal Barge Co., 09-5388, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of defendants' motion for acquittal on the ground
that the Ports and Waterways Safety Act (PWSA) violation was a point-in-time offense that was complete
at the time the defendant failed to immediately notify the Coast Guard
of the hazardous condition, which occurred on the Mississippi River
prior to entry into the Western District of Kentucky, in a conviction of defendants for violation of the PWSA, arising from a benzene leak in the Mississippi River.
In reversing the judgment, the court held that the district court erred
in acquitting defendants on the ground that there was no criminal venue
in the Western District of Kentucky because the crime is a continuing
offense rather than a point-in-time offense, and therefore the location
of the crime continued into the Western District of Kentucky as the
vessel in question proceeded from the Mississippi River to the Ohio.
However, the court held that defendants are not entitled to a judgment
of acquittal on the remaining grounds presented to the district court
because the evidence was sufficient to establish the elements of the
PWSA offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Lastly, the court held that the
district court also properly concluded that the defendants were not
entitled to a new trial because the evidence did not preponderate
heavily against the jury's finding that a hazardous condition existed
aboard the barge.