John Yates is a fisherman who was out on the water with his crew. He was fishing for grouper in the Gulf of Mexico. Officer Jones boarded the boat to check the sizes of the fish. Jones believed that the fisherman were keeping fish smaller than the 20-inch minimum. Jones found 72 grouper that were under the 20 inch minimum. Jones ordered the fish off the boat to check them once on main land. When the boat came on the mainland, Jones did not think the fish were the same fish he saw on the boat and thought Yates tossed the fish overboard and replaced them with larger fish.
Three years after the incident, police came and put Yates in handcuffs. They came with guns and bulletproof vests. Yates was convicted of destroying evidence to impede a federal investigation and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. He then appealed to the Supreme Court. Arguments were heard this past week and a decision will be made by next summer. He was charged under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Yates argued that the law is only meant to apply to documents and records and that fish do not fall under the act. The government argued that the law is intended to be a broad any-obstruction law and that the plain language of the statute would include the fish. Yates then argued that a fish is not a tangible object under the statute. The Supreme Court Justices will have to determine whether the government went overboard in prosecuting Yates and whether the fish fall under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
If you have been charged with a crime in federal court, contact a criminal justice attorney. A criminal justice attorney will be able to defend your rights. Max Keller is a criminal justice attorney in Minnesota. He is also licensed to practice law in federal court and successfully argued and won several cases in the Minnesota Supreme Court. Contact Keller Law Offices for a free consultation. Call 952-913-1421 today.