Sportsmen’s Alliance Creates In-House Litigation Team to Bolster Legal Battles for Sportsmen

by Tommy Grant

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Another SAF (the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, not the Second Amendment Foundation) has armed up to better fight those who would stifle a way of life for millions of Americans by creating an in-house litigation team. And while the organization’s focus is more on attacks on game laws and fighting limits on hunting than gun rights, there is frequently enough overlap with these issues to where it will benefit all gun owners who like to mix the outdoors with their shooting. Certainly it never hurts to have more pro-groups with some political and legal might sitting at the table.

In creating the new Office of Litigation Counsel within its Government Affairs Division, the Sportsmen’s Alliance has hired two in-house attorneys. Michael Jean has been hired to lead the office as Litigation Counsel, joined by Torin Miller as Associate Litigation Counsel. Together, the in-house litigation team will begin a rapid expansion of the Sportsmen’s Alliance’s litigation efforts throughout the nation.

“We’re excited about this expansion, and it comes at a perfect time as the North American Model of Conservation is under attack at every level. These two outstanding lawyers are ready, willing and eager to bring the fight to every legal arena necessary to protect our way of life,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance and Foundation.

As the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation’s litigation work has expanded in recent years, so too has the need for in-house litigation expertise, which is expected to grow exponentially in the coming year as the organization turns more often to the courts to protect sportsmen. Recent litigation efforts include a challenge to a Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioner who is violating state law by sitting on a county planning commission, an obvious conflict of interest. The Foundation won that challenge at trial but, for political reasons, the state has appealed, with oral arguments scheduled in the state supreme court in May. Similar challenges will become routine with the new litigation team and focus at the organization.

“There are too many instances where game commissions have gone off the rails, crazy rules are implemented, and a general disregard of sportsmen is becoming the status quo,” said Todd Adkins, vice president of government affairs at the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “While sportsmen may have no chance in some legislatures, the rule of law still exists in this country, and we’ll go to the third branch of government – the judiciary – to protect our interests. With in-house litigators ready to go, we can quickly bring the fight to them in every single state.”

Jean comes to the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation after serving as the Managing Director of the Office of Litigation Counsel at the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. In that role, Jean represented America’s sportsmen and women in numerous lawsuits, both at the state and federal levels, including one of the most significant Second Amendment cases in our nation’s history, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

Jean’s work includes defending access to more than 60 million acres of public land, fighting against limits on traditional lead ammunition and overturning trophy-import bans at the federal level. He has also litigated five different cases under the Endangered Species Act involving grizzly bears and wolves. Currently, Jean is leading the challenge of a new California law that censors and prohibits advertising hunting and education programs to youth throughout the state.

Jean earned undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and American Public Policy from Western Michigan University, where he also went on to earn a Juris Doctorate. He clerked for the Criminal Division of the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan in Detroit, and began his legal career as a litigation intern at Safari Club International while finishing his degree.

A lifelong sportsman, Miller has worked exclusively in the hunting and conservation community since graduating from law school, most recently working as the Senior Director of Policy at the National Deer Alliance. In that position, Miller played a critical role in pushing the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Research and Management Act through Congress, with CWD continuing to wreak havoc on whitetail herds throughout the nation. He has worked closely with local, state and federal agencies on hundreds of administrative and regulatory issues with respect to wildlife conservation, but always with the American sportsman as his polestar.

Miller brings an extensive educational background with him to SAF, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Penn State University before specializing in natural resources, environmental and energy law while earning his Juris Doctorate, also at Penn State.


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