Next week the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Yates v. United States, a Sarbanes-Oxley anti-shredding case. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted after the Enron scandal. One of the provisions of the Act is commonly known as the “anti-shredding provision,” which criminalizes knowingly altering, destroying, mutilating, concealing, covering up, falsifying, or making a false entry in “any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration” of any federal matter.
Why am I mentioning Sarbanes-Oxley on a maritime blog? Because Yates v. United States involves the federal government’s application of the “anti-shredding provision” to a commercial fisherman who directed his crewmen to throw undersized fish back into the sea, after receiving a civil citation and being told to bring the fish to dock to be destroyed. That’s right…throwing fish back into the sea landed one fisherman in the Sarbanes-Oxley anti-shredding net. Since then, the fisherman has lost his license, his boat, and his livelihood.
Take a look at this video from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). Really, take a look. It’ll only take two minutes, and the video is really good:
Oral argument will be held on November 5, 2014. So far, the fisherman has lost at the district court and the Eleventh Circuit. Will the Supreme Court overturn?
For those who are interested in more reading, here are some links: