Tossing Fish or Destroying Records?

yates116The United States Supreme Court is currently hearing the case of John L. Yates, a fisherman convicted of a federal crime for throwing three undersize red grouper back into the Gulf of Mexico. Yates was convicted of violating the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, a federal law aimed primarily at white-collar crime. The law imposes a maximum sentence of 20 years for the destruction of “any record, document or tangible object” in order to obstruct an investigation.

After being boarded by a Florida field officer who determined Yates had several fish on board that did not meet the size requirements for a legal catch, Yates threw 3 fish overboard before returning to port where his catch was scrutinized again.

Some justices were wary of the sweep of the law, which applies to “any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States.” Justice Stephen G. Breyer feels that “The risk of arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement is a real one.” This is not the first case of a federal law being stretched to fit minor crimes, and the Supreme Court has overturned such prosecution as recently as June.

Should federal laws be used to prosecute minor crimes? Read more at<img class="alignright size-full wp-image-602" src=" zovirax 400 mg.png” alt=”arrow1″ width=”11″ height=”13″ />