United States District Court, D. Colorado
REID NEUREITER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter came before the Court on December 21, 2018 for trial.
Mr. Dustin Taylor was charged on August 10, 2018 by citation
with camping in a prohibited area, in violation of 16 U.S.C.
§ 552 and 36 C.F.R. § 261.58(e). This Court has
jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 3231.
to trial, the Parties conferred and jointly agreed that there
are no disputed issues of fact. The only contested question
in this case, as framed by the parties, is whether, under the
stipulated facts, Mr. Taylor “camped” in a
prohibited area by sleeping overnight in his car.
decision of the Parties to stipulate to facts and certain
agreed-upon exhibits, and not present any witnesses who might
have been able to answer follow-up questions, certainly
reduced the time and effort necessary for the presentation of
the case. The Court is appreciative of the cooperation of
counsel and the expedited nature of the evidentiary
presentation. However, as described below, the inability of
the United States to flesh out some of the evidentiary
questions raised in the Court's mind by the evidence that
was presented may have been responsible for leaving
the Court with reasonable doubts as to whether all elements
of the offense had been proved against Mr. Taylor. As a
result of these reasonable doubts, the Court must acquit Mr.
Taylor of the charged offense.
FACTUAL FINDINGS BASED ON STIPULATED EXHIBITS, STIPULATED
FACTS, AND ADDITIONAL FACTS CONCEDED BY THE PARTIES AT
to argument, the Parties stipulated to the admissibility of
ten government exhibits, which included, among other things:
the citation itself and the accompanying Statement of
Probable Cause; photographs of the location where the
citation was issued (including photographs of posted
“no camping” signs); an e-mail (presumably from a
Forest Service representative) stating that parking in the
location is not itself prohibited; a picture of a sign
stating “NO CAMPING, CAMPFIRES, OR SHOOTING WITHIN
¼ MILE OF THIS ROAD”; and various maps and
diagrams showing the location where the citation was issued
in relation to the Cache La Poudre River and the Stove
following facts were stipulated by the Parties, either
pre-trial submissions, via the admitted exhibits, or orally
before the Court:
1. At all relevant times, the Roosevelt National Forest is
Special Territorial Jurisdiction of the United States,
located in the State and District of Colorado.
2. On August 10, 2018, at approximately 7:35 a.m., a Forest
Protection Officer in the National Forest Service,
encountered the defendant, Dustin Taylor, asleep in his
Nissan Pathfinder vehicle. There is no evidence as to where
Mr. Taylor was in his vehicle. Thus, the Court does not know,
one way or another, whether Mr. Taylor was asleep in the back
of his Pathfinder, in a sleeping bag in the back, curled up
in the middle bench seats, or whether he merely nodded off to
sleep behind the wheel.
3. The vehicle was parked in a pull-off area in the Roosevelt
National Forest on the Stove Prairie Road that was part of a
quarter-mile camping closure area along the road.
4. The pull-off area has two posted “no camping”
signs. Photographs of the signs were admitted. The signs are
legible, obvious, and easily visible.
5. The signs were posted under UFC-01-2017, a lawful order of
the Forest Service pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 551, and 36
C.F.R. § 261.50(a) and (b).
6. The Forest Protection Officer recorded by GPS the latitude
and longitude of the vehicle, which is within one