Showing posts from August, 2011

Snakes Not on a Plane

As you know, I am a sucker for a story about people with reptiles in their clothing. Here is the latest. TSA in Miami stops man for a pants-load of snakes and tortoises - South Florida Update: here is a story about smuggled jaguar pelts.,0,685309.story Keep up the good work South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Gibson Guitars Raided Under Lacey Act (Again)

Someone at Fish & Wildlife must hate rock 'n' roll.  Gibson Guitars was raided again this week for alleged violations of the Lacey Act. This time, the violation appears to relate to the interpretation of Indian law relating to whether the wood was harvested correctly. My prior post on Gibson is here .

Importer Identity Theft

The Court of International Trade decision in Kairali Decan, Inc. v. United States has been kicking around for a couple weeks and I have struggled with whether comment on it. I have recently decided that purely procedural decisions are of interest to only a small segment of readers of this blog. Also, procedural cases generally do not turn on broadly applicable principles of law (which make for good posts). But, this case has an interesting fact pattern and I have seen it covered elsewhere (I’m looking at you Adonica Wada ). Also, someone recently thanked me for reading these cases so he doesn’t have to. So here are my two cents. The underlying facts are that someone imported food from Sri Lanka. I say “someone,” because it seems pretty well established that the importer was not the plaintiff in this case. Rather, someone who is regularly in the business of importing food from Sri Lanka stole the identity of the plaintiff and made entry using its information. As a result, when the

Border Searches and Comic Books

Here is an  interesting piece on border searches from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The Fund is focused on border searches of electronic and traditional media where any of various forms of comics, graphic novels, and related literature are involved. That would include anime ,   manga , yuri  and other genre that might cross the creepy line for some readers. On the other hand, the creepy line is what makes first amendment law important and interesting. Creepy can be a long way from obscene. Plus, many of the arguments raised in this context relate to the protection of children from harm and exploitation, neither of which happens when no live models.

Surety Not Too Late

The Federal Circuit has reversed a decision of the Court of International Trade involving whether the surety on a customs bond should have filed a protest to challenge Customs' collection efforts. Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. United States is interesting for a couple reasons. First, the courts don't see a lot of suretyship cases. Second, this one was handled successfully by my partner Rick Van Arnam; so I say it is interesting. This is one of those cases that is all about whether the Court of International Trade has jurisdiction to review a decision. The underlying issue is whether the surety is liable for the importer's default. Hartford, the surety, filed a suit in the CIT seeking to prove that it was not liable for the debt due to what might have been criminal acts by some employees of the importer. Customs defended that claim by arguing that Hartford should have raised the issue in an administrative protest at Customs rather than in Court. For administrative law st

Goodbye Courtesy Notice

So, I've been busy. It happens. One of the many things I need to post is that Customs and Border Protection has finalized a rule to eliminate the mailed paper copy of the courtesy notice of liquidation for entries that were filed electronically via the Automated Broker Interface. As it stands, CBP provides an electronic notice of liquidation to the broker via ABI and mails the paper courtesy notice to the importer. Going forward, importers who want to monitor liquidations will have to do so via the Automated Commercial Environment Portal. If you are one of the small percentage of people who file paper entries, you will still get paper courtesy copies. As a practical matter, this may not make much difference. The official legal notice (which almost no one ever sees) is the posting at the customhouse. Many importers simply assume liquidation happens 314 days after entry. Others get reports from their broker. This state of affairs, together with the estimated $3 million in annua

Here's the Thing

Isaac Industries is an odd little Court of International Trade case that does not really present a discussion of law that is likely to apply generally. It relates to whether a protest was timely filed to challenge Customs and Border Protection's denial of a drawback claim. The issue arose because Customs closed the Miami drawback center and consolidated that operation in Los Angeles. The claim was filed in Miami and denied in Los Angeles but the liquidation notice was posted in Miami where the protest was filed. The question is when responsibility for the claim was transferred from Miami to LA and where the protest should properly have been filed. The Court basically found that the relevant Federal Register notices were clear and that the protest was filed in the wrong port, making it untimely. What I think is interesting about this case is that it really turns, for all intents and purposes, on the Federal Register Notice. The Court treats the Notice as if it has the full force

The Return of Mellorine

The Federal Circuit has affirmed the Court of International Trade decision in Arko Foods Int'l  regarding the proper tariff classification of mellorine. As you may recall from this post, mellorine is a dessert product similar to ice cream but made with animal or vegetable fat rather than all or some of the butterfat. Customs and Border Protection classified the mellorine in HTSUS item 2105.00.40 as a dairy product. The importer, seeking to avoid the application of import quotas, argued initially for classification as fruits and nuts (0811) or other edible preparations (2106). The CIT rejected those arguments and addressed where in Heading 2105 the product falls. Eventually, the CIT agreed with the importer that because milk is not the chief or essential ingredient, it does not the preponderant ingredient. That made the mellorine classifiable as 2105.00.50. The United States appealed. The Federal Circuit decision  affirmed the CIT. The government's main argument appears to ha

The Don't Show Me State

Giving away trinkets with a pro-U.S. business message can be hard. We have already discussed whether pens the U.S. Customs and Border Protection gave out at some event were properly marked. Now, with a hat tip to Wayla-guy comes word that the state of Missouri has run into issues with trinkets promoting jobs in Missouri. Based on this article , it seems the state ordered a bunch of novelty carabiners from a Missouri based business. The carabiners were emblazoned with a logo and web address for a state jobs service. Unfortunately, when the carabiners arrived, someone noticed that they were labeled as having been made in China. [Insert annoying sing-song "Awkward" here.] Being plucky Midwesterners, the state officials in charge asked for volunteers to help remove the labels. Also consistent with the Midwestern setting, volunteers were enticed to give their time with the promise of doughnuts. Eventually, the labels were removed. Readers of this blog are likely to know wher

Show Some Love

I know you are all holding your breath waiting for my review of the Federal Circuit's decision in Ark Foods. I promise to get to it soon. In the meantime, if I may make a shameless plug for myself, please support my blog in the ABA's quest for the Blawg 100. Here are the details: Dear Blawgger: We're working on our list of the 100 best legal blogs, and we'd like your advice on which blawgs you think we should include and/or what practice areas you'd like to see represented in the Blawg 100. Use the Blawg 100 Amici form to tell us about a blawg——not your own——that you read regularly that you think other lawyers should know about. If there is more than one blawg you want to support, please send us additional amici through the form. We may include some of the best comments in our Blawg 100 coverage. But keep your remarks pithy——you have a 500-character limit. Editors make the final decisions about what's included in the Blawg 100; this isn't a scenario in w

Operation Flying Turtle

Yes, my fascination with animal smuggling continues. Here is a press release from the Department of Justice. In this case, a Japanese national pleaded (n.b. not "pled") guilty to turtle and tortoise smuggling when Customs and Border Protection found 55 live animals packaged as snack food in his luggage. Of course, they may well have been snack food. But, once you violate the Convention on International Traffic in Endangered Species, it does not matter what you planned to do with the creatures. On the issue of the past tense of plead, Bryan Garner notes that both pled and plead have gained some credence as proper usage in American English (which is what I speak). But, Garner states that pleaded is the predominant form, and that is good enough for me. I know that because Garner quotes me as a usage example in A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, 667 (2d. ed): "No case was to be pleaded at Superior Court for less than a three pounds fee . . . ." Lawrence M. Friedma

99 44/100% Pure Smuggling

Do people still want to buy ivory art? A while back, we covered an arrest for scrimshaw-related smuggling . Now, I see that a Philadelphia shop owner has been arrested for smuggling elephant ivory. The investigation resulted in about a ton of ivory being seized by authorities. Here is the press release.  I understand that people all have different tastes in art and artifacts. And, I can kind of see the attraction of antique ivory pieces as a specimen of craft work from a time when the mores surrounding the killing of elephants was different. But I am surprised there remains a market for this in the West and particularly in the U.S.