United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER REGARDING JURY INSTRUCTIONS ON INTENT ELEMENTS
FOR REGULATORY COUNTS
THELTON E. HENDERSON United States District Judge
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (“PG&E”) is
charged with twelve crimes under 49 U.S.C. § 60123(a)
(“Section 60123(a)”). That statute makes it a
crime for any person to “knowingly and willfully”
violate any regulation prescribed or order issued under 49
U.S.C. Chapter 601, or the “Pipeline Safety Act.”
The twelve counts brought under Section 60123(a) charge
PG&E with violating seven such regulations: 49 C.F.R.
§ 192.917(b) (Count 2); 49 C.F.R. § 192.709(a)
(Counts 3-4); 49 C.F.R. § 192.917(a) (Count 5); 49
C.F.R. § 192.919 (Count 6); 49 C.F.R. §
192.917(e)(3) (Count 7); 49 C.F.R. § 192.917(e)(4)
(Count 8); and 49 C.F.R. § 192.517(a) (Counts 9-13).
facilitate the jury instruction conference with respect to
the intent elements of these regulatory counts, the Court
provides this written explanation of its jury instructions on
those elements. The Court lists below each jury instruction
related to Section 60123(a)’s “knowing” and
“willful” elements,  and then explains the legal
basis for that instruction.
Instruction No. 25 - “KNOWINGLY-DEFINED” - reads:
An act is done knowingly if the defendant is aware of the act
and does not act through ignorance, mistake, or accident. You
may consider evidence of the defendant’s words, acts,
or omissions, along with all the other evidence, in deciding
whether the defendant acted knowingly.
parties agree on this definition of “knowingly, ”
which is rooted in Ninth Circuit Model Criminal Jury
Instruction 5.6. U.S.’s Separately Proposed Jury
Instructions (“Gov’t Instrs.”) at 3 (Dkt.
No. 303); Def.’s Objs. to Gov’t’s Proposed
Jury Instructions (“Def.’s Objs.”) at 3
(Dkt. No. 310).
KNOWLEDGE OF A CORPORATION
Instruction No. 26 - “KNOWLEDGE OF A CORPORATION”
The knowledge obtained by corporate employees acting within
the scope of their employment is imputed to the corporation.
Accordingly, if a specific employee knows something within
the scope of his or her employment, then the corporation can
be said to know that same thing.
The corporation is also considered to have acquired the
collective knowledge of its employees. The
corporation’s “knowledge” is therefore the
totality of what its employees know within the scope of their
Court previously held, “[t]here is ample persuasive
precedent and widespread acceptance of legal treatises that
define a ‘collective knowledge’ theory to prove
that a corporate defendant acted
‘knowingly.’” Order Den. Def.’s Mot.
to Dismiss for Erroneous Legal Instructions (“First
Order”) at 5 (Dkt. No. 219). For example, in United
States v. Bank of New England, 821 F.2d 844 (1st Cir.
1987), the First Circuit held that “[a] collective
knowledge instruction is entirely appropriate in the context
of corporate criminal liability.” 821 F.2d at 856. The
Bank of New England court therefore upheld the trial
court’s instruction that: “[A bank’s]
knowledge is the sum of the knowledge of all of the
employees. That is, the bank’s knowledge is the
totality of what all of the employees know within the scope
of their employment.” Id. at 855.