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United States of America v. Donald Twito

March 10, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD TWITO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

INTRODUCTION

On July 26, 2010, the defendant, Donald Twito was charged under 16 U.S.C. § 551 and 36 CFR 261.3(a) in a one count information. The first count charged Twito with knowingly threatening, resisting, intimidating, or interfering with United States Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Karl Stocker, while Stocker was engaged in and account of the performance of his official duties in the protection, improvement, and administration of the National Forest System.

The count charged is a Class B misdemeanor. 18 U.S.C. § 3559(a)(7); 36 C.F.R. § 261.1b. A Class B misdemeanor is a petty offense. 18 U.S.C. § 19. There is no right to a jury trial where the charge is a petty offense, Fed.R.Crim.P. 58(b)(2)(F). The Court therefore held a two-day trial beginning on January 13, 2011, and ending January 14, 2011.*fn1 The Court received the final proposed findings and facts and conclusions of law on February 1, 2011.

On the basis of the evidence presented, the Court is unable to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant Donald Twito is guilty of the offense charged. Below are the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law supporting this decision.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. On July 25, 2010, Defendant Donald Twito was driving his 1975 International 2 ton truck south on Highway 93 in Lemhi County, Idaho. His brother, Ken Twito, was riding in the passenger seat. The truck was fully loaded with wood, and Don Twito had attached a bright pink National Forest Service "load tag" to the load of wood.

2. United States Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Karl Stocker was on duty and in uniform, and driving a marked law enforcement pickup north on Highway 93 when he observed Twito's truck pass him heading south with the bright pink tag attached to the load of wood. Neither Don Twito nor Officer Stocker recognized each other as they passed.

3. As part of his duties, which include enforcing federal laws and regulations on the National Forest, patrolling National Forest lands, protecting resources, and providing for the safety of the public, Officer Stocker frequently inspects "load tags," like the one attached to Twito's load of wood.

4. Load tags are used to account for the amount of wood taken out of the National Forest on a particular permit. They must have the month and day clipped out in order to be properly validated. Each household is allotted a 10-cord maximum.

5. Having observed the load tag, Officer Stocker turned around his truck to follow Twito's truck. He intended to inspect the load tag affixed to the load of wood.

6. Officer Stocker activated his light bar when he saw the load tag. Twito, however, testified that he never saw Officer Stocker turn around to follow him, and he never saw Officer Stocker's lights activated.

7. Once turned around, Officer Stocker observed the truck stopped in the driveway to the Twito residence. He pulled in and stopped directly behind the truck on the Twitos' narrow driveway.

8. Twito could not see directly behind him, through either his rearview mirror or his sideview mirrors, because the load of wood completely obscured his view. The Court finds that Twito did not ...


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