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Old 09-18-2006   #1
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
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In the case of Normal Parm, et al v. Sheriff Mark Shumate, of East Carroll Parish, (Civil No.3:01-CV2624; United States District Court; Western District of Louisiana, Monroe Division) United States District Judge Robert G. James has declared it to be criminal trespassing for the public to boat, fish or hunt on the Mississippi River and other navigable waters of America, affirming the arrest of fishermen and boaters utilizing the waters of the Mississippi River. This ruling declares recreational boating, fishing tournament, waterfowl hunting, and pleasure boating illegal on navigable rivers, unless conducted within the main channel of the river, or with the permission of all riparian landowners along the navigable river.

District Court Judge James’s ruling under federal law grants to the riparian landowners of the Mississippi River, the exclusive and private control over the waters of the Mississippi River, outside of the main channel of the Mississippi River. The shallows of navigable waterways are no longer open to the public. This decision, based in federal law, equally applies to all other navigable waterways of America. For bass fishermen and duck hunters, and other fishermen and hunters that use the ever changing shallow waters of navigable rivers for their outdoor activities has been declared illegal. District Judge James affirmed that the public is subject to criminal arrest for trespassing on the riparian landowner’s privately owned and controlled water if they venture outside the main channel of a navigable waterway.

On April 30, 2006, Magistrate Judge James D. Kirk (Document 80) found that the American public had the right under federal law and Louisiana law, to navigate, boat, fish and hunt on the waters of the Mississippi River, across the entire surface of the Mississippi River, up to the normal high water of the river. Judge Kirk relied upon the long established federal principles of navigation that recognized that the public’s federal navigational rights ". . . entitles the public generally to the reasonable use of navigable waters for all legitimate purposes of travel or transportation, for boating or sailing for pleasure, as well as for carrying persons or property for hire, and in any kind of water craft the use of which is consistent with others also enjoying the right possessed in common." Silver Springs Paradise Co. v. Ray, 50 F.2d 356 (5th Cir., 1931). Further, Magistrate Kirk affirmed the public’s fundamental right to boat and fish on the navigable waters of Louisiana for both recreational and commercial purposes affirming the Civil Code’s declaration that " Everyone has the right to fish in the rivers, ports, roadsteads, and harbors, . . . ." (Louisiana Civil Code, Article 452), and the Louisiana Constitution declaration that "[t]he freedom to hunt, fish, and trap wildlife, including all aquatic life, traditionally taken by hunters, trappers and anglers, is a valued natural heritage that shall be forever preserved for the people." (Louisiana Constitution, Article 1, Section 27).

On August 29, 2006, District Judge Robert G. James, United States District Court, sitting in Monroe, Louisiana rejected the findings of Magistrate Judge Kirk, and declared that the American Public has no federal or state right to fish or hunt on the Mississippi River, or any other navigable waterway in America (Document 139).

U.S. District Judge James specifically declared that neither century old statutes enacted as each State joined the Union, nor federal common law of public use, create a right of the public to use the navigable waters of America for recreation, fishing or boating, unless the activity is done as a commercial enterprise, and limited to the main channel of the river. Judge James has declared that the public’s only right to use the navigable waters of America are limited to commercial activities, and specifically DOES NOT INCLUDE the right of the public to boat, fish and recreate on the rivers of America.

Judge James rejected the argument made by the Plaintiffs that the multi-billion dollar commercial activities that support the manufacturing and sale of personal and recreational water craft and related equipment, and the public recreational uses of the navigable waters, were sufficiently "commercial" to be allowed on America’s navigable waters. If the judgement of District Judge James is affirmed, the exclusion of the recreational boater, fisherman and hunter threatens the financial viability of the entire segment of the American economy that supports recreational use of public waters. Finally, Judge James declared that the people boating, hunting or fishing on the waters of the Mississippi River, at normal heights, are subject to arrest for trespass, unless the activity is limited to the narrow, main channel of the river. The following are quotes from the opinion of Judge Robert James, Western District of Louisiana:


District Court Judge Robert James declared that the People of America do not have the right under federal law, holding that " . . . the federal navigational servitude do[es] not provide the Plaintiffs with the right to fish and hunt on the Mississippi River."
District Judge James declared that the People of America do not ". . . have a right to fish and hunt on the Mississippi River up to the ordinary high water mark when it [the Mississippi River] periodically floods . . ." the riparian land.


District Judge James declared that under State law ". . . fishing and hunting [on the waters of the Mississippi River and other navigable waterways] is not included in these rights" that are granted on rivers of America as they naturally rise and fall.

District Judge James declared that if you are fishing on the Mississippi River anywhere other than the main channel, ". . . the Sheriff . . . has probable cause to arrest you for trespassing."

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Old 09-18-2006   #2
GoodTimes's Avatar
Eagle, Idaho
Paddling Since: '78
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Lemme' guess........Judge James owns Mississippi river-front property and was getting tired of jet-ski's and fisherman buzzin' by his gazebo. "Screw it.....I'll F&*% the whole country".

First of would be insanely difficult to enforce. BUT what the hell....why??? There just seems to be absolutely NO reasonable cause to create such "law".

I have spent many summer weekends on the good ole mississip (the old man, the ole miss.......Deeeep RIVER!) ....and I have realized a noticeable change in "law" inforcement in the past 5 years. This would be absolutely devastating to the small, river towns that survive on the recreation the Miss. has to offer. IT WILL DESTROY LIVES!! Not only along the Miss. but obviously many other rivers across the country and the towns the survive because of them.

I just don't understand the logic??? Is this not a free country???

The judicial system is ridiculous. How can one man make a ruling of such great significance that can potentially destroy many lives, where are the "checks and balances"??

Am I missing something?

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Old 09-19-2006   #3
loveland, Colorado
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 317
ridiculous interpretation

We must put every available effort forward to prevent this from being affirmed. Surely the whole is more powerful than this JACKASS.
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Old 09-19-2006   #4
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 56
It's not true, that's not what the judge said, and even if it were, it would never be upheld in a circuit court. A district judge is in no position to be overturning supreme court decisions regarding navigable waterways.
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Old 09-19-2006   #5
Denver via GJ, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
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Posts: 333
Wankers! Are country is becoming full of Wankers!

I am with GoodTimes on this. My guess is Judge "James" has river or lake front land (or friends with it) somewhere like Montana that has a high water law in effect. Hence the "and America" comment. He's trying to push the issue (send a signal) in some other states that have public rights to waterways. Non-resident land owners (and some low life resident land owners - Ted Turner-Spanish Creek) have been trying to kill the high water mark law that the Montana public voted in since its inception. Usually when these owner's fail in thier quest the Judge is curtious enough to explain how they should pursue the case next time (i.e. this angle of approach might work better for you).

I have a fairly one-sided opinion on this, but I grew up in Montana and having the high water mark is a wonderfull thing for the public and recreation. It really gives you a sense of freedom and increases peoples respect for the waterways (because they are, in-part, their own).

I can understand how it could be frustrating to be a land owner along a popular waterway (we are all very passionate about our land and homes). I just can't understand how someone could justify keeping it from others, especially when its been their right for such a long time. It is truely selfish.
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Old 09-19-2006   #6
caverdan's Avatar
C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Here is a link to a website that has the complete court document listed for your reading enjoyment.

I'm getting the jist of all this as, having to do with the officer being charged with illegally arresting someone for fishing on someone land that was under flood at the time. The river had pushed back to land that is normally, not bordering the river. It has nothing to due with normal fishing or river access rights, during normal flows of the river.
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Old 09-19-2006   #7
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Thought-criminal, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
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Posts: 989
I think the whole concept of land ownership is bullshit. Maybe it's because I don't own any. But like the old Indian guy (feather, not turban) said in the '80s classic Earnest Goes to Camp : "Who can own a rock? Who can own a tree?"

Land owners can eat my shorts. This land is your land. This land is my land. This land was meant for you and me.
I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 09-20-2006   #8
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Not to deviate from the topic, but I must reply to BSOE's comment. Private ownership is what seperates us from the Commies. One of the first tenants of Marxism is to abolish private land ownership. I agree that the judge is a jackass, most likely a jackass with ulterior motives, but one should be careful wishing for socialism. The federal government has WAY too much authority as it is, and this is ruining the republic. Notice I say republic, not democracy. THis is because we are NOT a democracy, nor were we ever intended to be one. The word democracy doesn't appear in the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, or any of the State Constitution's.
Hamilton said: "We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy." Samuel Adams warned: "Remember, Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself! There never was a democracy that 'did not commit suicide'." James Madison, one of the members of the Convention who was charged with drawing up our Constitution, wrote as follows:

... democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.

Something to keep in mind next time you hear some moron talking about "spreading democracy throughout the world."

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