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Charles v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

June 11, 2010

Marvin L. CHARLES Sr., Appellant,
v.
STATE of Alaska, Appellee.

Page 740

Glenda J. Kerry, Law Office of Glenda J. Kerry, Girdwood, for the Appellant.

Stephen R. West, District Attorney, Ketchikan, and Daniel S. Sullivan, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

Before: COATS, Chief Judge, and MANNHEIMER and BOLGER, Judges.

OPINION

BOLGER, Judge.

Marvin L. Charles Sr. was convicted of violating several state hunting regulations related to the taking of does on Prince of Wales Island. Charles argues that he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing in district court to show that the hunting regulations were invalid because they conflicted with federal law requiring a priority for subsistence hunting. We uphold the district court's decision to deny the hearing because Charles did not raise any factual dispute about the validity of the regulations.

Facts and proceedings

Charles was convicted of five counts of unlawful possession or transportation of

Page 741

game,[1] four counts of unlawful possession or transportation of game that had evidence of sex removed,[2] and hunting without the required harvest ticket.[3] Charles's violations all involved deer shot on federal land on Prince of Wales Island in September 2006. Only antlered bucks could be hunted on Prince of Wales Island at the time.[4] However, Charles admitted that at least three of the deer that were taken by his hunting party were does.[5]

Before trial, Charles moved for dismissal of the charges, arguing that the state regulations conflicted with the subsistence priority mandated by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (ANILCA).[6] Charles argued that the state regulations were defective because they did not establish a priority for subsistence use as required by ANILCA, and therefore encouraged depletion of a resource " that Congress specifically directed be used for the primary purpose of non-wasteful subsistence." Charles asserted that non-subsistence hunters had decreased the population of bucks, exerting " an ever-increasing pressure on subsistence users' efforts to feed themselves and their families by means of their traditional subsistence way of life."

Charles also asked for an evidentiary hearing to establish that he was entitled to defend against the charges at trial by showing that (1) the deer were taken for subsistence purposes and (2) the state regulations were unreasonable because they failed to provide him an opportunity to satisfy his subsistence needs.

Superior Court Judge Trevor N. Stephens, sitting in the district court, denied the motion to dismiss. Relying on Totemoff v. State, [7] Judge Stephens ruled that ANILCA did not preempt the state from regulating hunting on federal lands in Alaska as long as the regulations did not conflict with federal law. He ruled that the state regulation allowing hunting by non-subsistence hunters on Prince of Wales Island did not conflict with federal law because the responsible federal agencies had also not restricted non-subsistence hunting in the area. Judge Stephens also found that Charles had not offered any evidence to show that there was a dangerously skewed buck-to-doe ratio on Prince of Wales Island, or that there was no valid reason under ANILCA to limit the hunting of does.

Charles filed a motion to reconsider, again requesting an evidentiary hearing. In his motion to reconsider, Charles conceded that the pertinent federal regulations governing

Page 742

hunting on Prince of Wales Island almost mirrored state regulations. He clarified that his claim was that the federal and state regulations both deprived him of ANILCA's subsistence priority by placing him on equal footing with non-subsistence hunters. He asserted that a hearing " would show that the pressure put on game by non-subsistence users has, in fact[,] been recognized by the Federal ...


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