The California Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether federal law preempts state laws that make it all but impossible to gold mine using suction dredging.
The high court this week agreed to hear a state appeal of an appellate ruling that overturned the 2013 conviction of gold prospector Brandon Rinehart for dredging without a permit on a gold mining claim in PlumasNational Forest.
In September the Third District Court of Appeal reversed Rinehart’s conviction saying it lacked an adequate record to because the trial judge found it unnecessary to hear evidence on the issues raised in the offer of proof. It sent the case back to the trial court.
Rinehart was convicted in a non-jury trial that he used vacuum and suction dredging equipment in a stream along an area closed to suction dredge mining and did not have a valid permit from the state.
Rinehart argued that an 1872 federal mining law encouraging exploration for minerals preempts the state limits on suction dredging.
According to the appeals court, Rinehart contended he had permits when they were issued and would have continued to get them if they were still available.
The state imposed the limits on suction dredging as an environmental protection
Case: People v. Rinehart, No. C074662