Thursday, 15 November 2012

'Tarby' Dodgy Dino Bones case: Professional Numismatists' Lawyers fail to Get Professional Palaeontologist off Hook

The lawyers of "Professional Numismatists" (coin shopkeepers) have failed in their attempt to get the Tarby case against "Professional Palaeontologist" (rock shopkeeper) Eric Procopi dismissed, according to an account by Rick St Hilaire drawing on court documentation  ("New York Federal Court Denies Prokopi's Motion to Dismiss in Dinosaur Forfeiture Case"Cultural Property Lawyer blog, 15 Nov 2012 ). It seems they are not doing very well in 'United States v. One Tyrannosaurus Bataar Skeleton', applyng their coiney argumentation to another class of object, Judge P. Kevin Castel is having none of that. The gist of his 19 page order (see St Hilaire for more details) is that he considers that it is likely from what he has read that "the government will be able to meet its burden of proof at trial". A key issue is the manner in which the importer of these items represented the country of origin of the items in question - a key issue in coiney cases too. 

I find it incredible that the lawyers tried to use the coiney argument that Tarby existed: "millions of years before the emergence of Homo sapiens and even longer before the concept of a 'country' was established". As the judge points out what is relevant in suich cases is the circumstances pertaining at the time of the removal from the ground and country of origin, so"between 1995 and 2005", smashing that one on the head at the outset. This is going to be an interesting court case - if it comes to that, the dealer may find it more economical in the circumstances to abandon the property. 

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