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Turtle Or Egg? Appeal Should Answer Question

November 27, 1989

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A man convicted of poaching more than 1,000 eggs of endangered sea turtles has filed an appeal that puts a new twist on an old question: What came first, the turtle or the egg?

James A. Bivens was convicted in March of poaching 1,088 eggs. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and fined $500, plus $100 for each egg taken from the beach on Singer Island. The fine amounts to $109,300.

In court documents, Bivens’ attorney argued that the fine is illegal because state law allows a judge to levy a $100 fine ″per unit of marine life.″

But when does marine life begin?

″An egg, according to the facts of nature that an egg becomes a life when it is hatched ... is not a turtle,″ Assistant Public Defender Louis Carres wrote. ″Hence the universal question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?″

Bivens is appealing the County Court fine to Circuit Court. Last week, a three-judge panel set Jan. 18 for oral arguments.

Prosecutors and wildlife officials say the argument is a new to them, but ridiculous nevertheless.

″If you kill an egg, it’s not going to become a turtle, obviously,″ said Barbara Schroeder, sea turtle recovery coordinator for the state Department of Natural Resources.

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