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Rinehart Opinion Reverses The Legal Momentum Against Suction Dredging!

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California's Third Appellate District reversed and remanded the judgment against Brandon Rinehart on September 23, 2014 in an unpublished decision. In my opinion this is a HUGE win for suction dredge miners in the sense that it contains a legal analysis that shifts the evidentiary focus AWAY from sole reliance on bureaucratic findings and regulations and instead appears to require the analysis to address the practical feasibility of commercial suction dredge mining. Neither the California Legislature nor the Dept of Fish and Wildlife have ever addressed this seminal question beyond flippant remarks to the effect that miners are not prohibited from using gold pans to extract pay from their claims.

Admittedly, the unpublished status of the opinion blunts the immediate application of the legal analysis beyond Brandon Rinehart's mining operations in Plumas County. Nonetheless, the articulation of the correct evidentiary process is a valuable nugget in itself. This is so because of the undeniable applicability of this evidentiary standard to the consolidated civil cases currently before the Hon. Gilbert Ochoa in Rancho Cucamonga. The unpublished case itself may not be cited, but the case law discussed therein IS published (see especially the PUBLISHED federal opinion by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal in South Dakota Mining Ass'n Inc. v. Lawrence County 155 F.3d 1005 (1998). In other words, by my lights, the evidentiary fight in cases such as those before the San Bernardino Superior Court no longer is totally limited to POSSIBLE environmental impacts. The focus shifts toward including a realistic analysis of economic feasibility in determining whether California's regulations are prohibitory in nature.

The opinion may yet be published. We likely will not learn whether such a decision is made for an additional 30 days or so. Upon remand the trial court in Plumas County will be required to take evidence pursuant to the Third Appellate District's analysis (assuming the District Attorney does not dismiss the case on remand). Gerald (Jerry) Hobbs, president of PLP, may be called to testify. Similarly, Rinehart himself and other miners may testify. I will be curious to see what witnesses, if any, the district attorney calls, i.e., what credentials they have (education, training and experience in the field of suction dredge mining) compared to Jerry Hobbs and others who have spent a lifetime on a dredge nozzle.

Bottom line: There has been a sea change in the suction dredge cases. The tide has reversed. And hope springs eternal. :yesss:

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NOT PUBLISHING is not common sense but a denial and obstruction of justice. A decision was made but no testiculiar fortitude to even make it a legal judgement through publication :ROFL: . This country is in a friggn' twilight zone. Going dredgn' fm-John

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This info has been posted on other threads, but in case you haven't read about it yet, here is the information to help get this court decision published.

Here is a link to a "fill-in-the-blank" type of letter that will accomplish what needs to be done for getting the decision published. Doesn't matter if you are out of state or not....your interest in getting this court decision published is what's important right now. Send signed and filled out copies of both pages to all of those parties that are listed. Please do what you can to help all of us miners..........thanks. GN


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It is in all of our best interests to have a positive Federal decision published so that all other State courts will use it. California has just been the battleground using miners and legal minds from many different states. It is a bit of a 'pain' to have to send to everyone on the list but the more who do it the better.

This is a very interesting read if you have not seen it yet. When you read all of it then you will see what the 'evidence' is about in detail.


We would all make similar decisions as miners in order to work our claims. Federal law allows it.

Edited by mn90403
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