Case Detail

Yates v. United States
On February 25, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the conviction of commercial fisherman John Yates in a 5-4 vote. The U.S. Justice Department had prosecuted Yates under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) for allegedly directing his crew to throw undersized fish back into the sea after receiving a regulatory citation for catching them. In reversing the appeals court, the Court limited SOX § 1519 (which carries a penalty of up to 20 years’ imprisonment) to the destruction of a tangible object that is “used to record or preserve information.” By cabining the meaning of the term “tangible object” in this manner, the Court ensures that future defendants cannot be convicted (and should not be prosecuted) under § 1519 for disposing of objects that are not ordinarily used to record or preserve data or information.
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More Information and Downloads:
7/7/2014: Download the Brief
Press Release: WLF Asks High Court to Declare Sarbanes-Oxley’s “Anti-Shredding” Provision Void for Vagueness
Press Release: High Court to Hear Arguments Wednesday on Whether Sarbanes-Oxley’s “Anti-Shredding” Provision Covers Fish
Press Release: In WLF Victory, High Court Throws Back Fisherman’s Harsh Prosecution, Limits Sarbanes-Oxley’s “Anti-Shredding” Provision
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