Justices Take Up Air Force Trespassing Fight

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The United States persuaded the Supreme Court on Monday to revisit its trespassing charges related to a stretch of highway running through an Air Force Base.
     John Apel had previously been convicted of three counts of trespassing on Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 9 miles northwest of Lompoc, Calif.
     A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit vacated those convictions last year, however, based on recent precedent.
     In the 2011 case United States v. Parker, the federal appeals court concluded that a stretch of highway running through the Vandenberg base is subject to an easement “granted to the state of California, which later relinquished it to the County of Santa Barbara.”
     As such, the Pasadena-based panel said that the federal government lacks the exclusive right of possession of the area on which the trespass allegedly occurred.
     Despite an order barring Apel from the base , the trespassing convictions cannot stand, the court concluded.
     The judges reached this decision despite noting that they “question the correctness of Parker.”
     Per its custom, the Supreme Court issued no comment in granting the United States a writ of certiorari Monday.

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