Published on: Monday, April 28, 2014
Today, the Supreme Court granted cert in Yates v. United States (No. 13-7451). The petitioner, a commercial fisherman, was charged and convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 1519, the "anti-shredding" provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which makes it a crime for anyone who "knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object" with the intent to impede or obstruct an investigation. The government prosecuted Yates under this statute for destroying purportedly undersized, harvested fish from the Gulf of Mexico. The question presented in the case is whether Yates "was deprived of fair notice that destruction of fish would fall within the purview of 18 U.S.C. § 1519, where the term 'tangible object' is ambiguous and undefined in the statute, and unlike the nouns accompanying 'tangible object' in section 1519, possesses no record-keeping, documentary, or informational content or purpose."