No result in raptor hearing
By Emma Breysse, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
July 19, 2012
Eight hours Wednesday was not long enough to determine if permit violation charges against the Teton Raptor Center’s program director will continue to trial.
Jason Jones, of Wilson, questioned witnesses in 9th Circuit Court for most of the day in an attempt to prove that charges against him are the result of flaws in Wyoming Game and Fish Department processes for issuing wildlife permits. Jones faces nine counts of owning raptors without a permit.
If he prevails, either the case will be dismissed or prosecutors will not be allowed to use evidence obtained during two 2010 inspections by Game Warden Bill Long.
The charges stem from a discrepancy in Jones’ application to own 17 raptors in 2010 and the permit he eventually received, which was for eight birds. Jones alleges that Long assured him the difference in the application and the permit was a mistake and that he could keep all of his birds. Long says the difference was intentional.
Questions aimed at finding the truth ran the gamut from specifics of permitting regulations to explanations of Game and Fish emails relating to Jones’ case.
Testimony from Game and Fish and Teton Raptor Center staff and board members conflicted on nearly every issue.
Long and Game and Fish Permit Officer Carol Havlik testified they intended Jones’ permit to allow only eight raptors. Long also testified that he never tried to convince the Raptor Center to fire Jones.
Len Carlman, board member and lawyer for the Raptor Center, testified he was present when Long told Jones the difference was an administrative error. Carlman and Roger Smith, founder of the center and chairman of its board, testified that Long asked Smith to fire his program director.
Judge James Radda has yet to begin deliberations in the case despite the marathon hearing. When Radda ended proceedings a little after 5 p.m., one scheduled witness had yet to testify, and neither Jones nor Teton County Deputy Prosecutor Clark Allen had given a closing argument.
The hawks belong to Jones, and not the Raptor Center, which is not named in the case.
The case will appear in court again in the next several days to determine when the hearing can continue.