Tuesday, November 4, 2014

One fish. Two fish. Three fish. Guilty.

Paul J. Larkin, Jr., Senior Legal Research Fellow, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation, with a guest post at ACSblog on the November 5, 2014 U.S. Supreme Court oral argument scheduled in Yates v. United States.
"In 2007, John Yates was the captain of the Miss Katie, a commercial fishing boat working in the Gulf of Mexico. John Jones, a federally deputized Florida Fish and Game Wildlife Commission officer, was patrolling offshore. He saw the Miss Katie, boarded it to conduct a safety inspection, and found some undersized red grouper. He told Yates to put the grouper aside for reinspection when he returned to port, but Yates decided retroactively to adopt a 'catch-and-release' program. Yates threw the undersized fish overboard, and replaced them with fish that were large enough to be caught. Bad move.

"Catching undersized grouper is not a crime; it’s subject to only a fine and maybe a fishing license suspension. But the government charged Yates with violating the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by destroying a 'tangible object' in order to obstruct a federal civil investigation -- a crime punishable by up to twenty years’ imprisonment."