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Vaden v. State

Supreme Court of Alaska
768 P.2d 1102 (1989)


Law enforcement received a tip that Douglas Vaden (defendant) was using illegal hunting methods while providing guiding services to hunters. John Snell, an undercover agent from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, posed as a hunter, asking Vaden to act as a guide. During the hunt, Snell shot and killed four foxes from Vaden’s aircraft using a shotgun provided by Vaden. At the time, fox-hunting season was closed. Vaden subsequently transferred the fox carcasses to Anchorage. Vaden was convicted as an accomplice on charges of illegally hunting foxes during the closed season. Vaden appealed his conviction, arguing that the public authority justification defense available to Snell as an undercover agent should also be available to Vaden as a charged accomplice. The court of appeals upheld Vaden’s convictions. In a companion case, undercover agent Thomas Pagel posed as a hunter, requesting that Floyd Saltz (defendant) help guide a hunt. Saltz and Pagel flew out to fish and hunt. Even though only fly fishing was permitted, Saltz decided to switch methods and gave Pagel a baited spinning rod, which Saltz and Pagel used to catch about 50 fish. Saltz caught and killed about 20 pike fish. The next day, Saltz and Pagel flew into the hunting area to hunt caribou. Saltz gave Pagel a rifle and told Pagel which caribou to shoot. Pagel shot and killed the caribou, after which Saltz also shot a caribou, even though it was illegal to kill a caribou on the same day as being airborne. Saltz and Pagel did not take any of the meat from the fish and caribou. Saltz was charged based on the actions of both himself and Pagel in killing and wasting the animals, as well as using illegal fishing gear and wasting fish. Saltz moved to dismiss. The trial court denied the motion, and Saltz was convicted on all counts. Vaden and Saltz appealed their convictions.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Compton, J.)

Dissent (Burke, J.)

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