Statutory interpretation: is a fish a “tangible object”?

It’s a federal crime to “knowingly alter, destroy, mutilate, conceal, cover up, falsify, or make a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object” with the intent of impeding or obstructing a federal investigation (italics added). But does this provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (codified at 18 USC 1519, if you must know), apply to a commercial fisherman who throws three illegally-caught fish overboard to avoid detection? That is the main issue in the case of Yates v. United States, which the US Supreme Court has agreed to adjudicate. (If you’re really bored today, you can read more about this delicate controversy here and here.) Does anyone want to bet with us on what the outcome of this case will be?

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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