Defendant is a South Korean national who was a chief engineer of a U.S.-flagged vessel. While the ship was docked in American Samoa, U.S. authorities arrested the defendant for pollution charges and sent him to Washington D.C., through a flight that had a layover in Hawaii. The defendant then argued that D.D.C. was an improper venue.
The court agreed with the defendant and dismissed the case for improper venue, with ten days abeyance for the government to re-file in Hawaii. 18 U.S.C. s. 3238 states that a crime committed in the high seas is to be tried in which the offender is arrested or first brought. Because the defendant was in custody at all times when he arrived at Hawaii for layover, he was first brought to Hawaii.
This is a highly interesting case that pushes a new frontier on the venue provision.
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