Sometimes an arrest seems so ridiculous and unjust that a person may shake his or her head in disbelief. But when a prosecutor decides, quite literally, to make a federal case out of it some people refuse to let him get away with it. One such person is Marc Levin, Policy Director for Right on Crime. Levin and other conservatives have joined the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to provide a briefing on over-criminalization and prosecutorial overreach.
The following press release describes the outrage brought on by U.S. v. Yates.
Over-Criminalization Goes to Supreme Court
October 30, 2014
Contact: Kevin McVicker
Shirley & Bannister Public Affairs
(703) 739-5902 (800) 536-5920
Ahead of public arguments in U.S. v.Yates, legal experts demand the end to the proliferation of thousands of capricious federal statutory crimes>
Austin, TX— In the run-up to the Supreme Court’s hearing of oral arguments in U.S. v. Yates, Right on Crime, the nationally recognized conservative criminal justice reform organization, will convene a briefing on over-criminalization and prosecutorial overreach.
In this case, a Florida law enforcement officer (deputized as a federal officer by the National Marine Fisheries Service) boarded the ship of a commercial fisherman, John Yates, for an inspection of his catch of more than 3,000 fish. The officer accused Yates of catching 72 undersized red grouper. Upon second count, however, the officer only found 69 groupers. He accused Yates of throwing fish overboard, and for this alleged disposal of evidence, a federal prosecutor criminally charged Yates with violating the “anti-document-shredding” provision of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was passed in the wake of the 2001 Enron accounting scandal. The violation is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The assembled legal experts will discuss solutions to prosecutorial overreach of this sort, such as strengthening mens rea protections in statutes and eliminating certain crimes altogether.
Right On Crime’s parent organization, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, signed an amicus brief in Yates observing that the prosecutorial overreach in the case is part of a larger trend of over-criminalization in America. Modern federal criminal law provides for almost 5,000 crimes. Historically, “crime” was a term restricted to morally blameworthy actions, but today, many ordinary activities are captured by the term. Individuals have been threatened with prosecution (and in some cases served prison time) for importing lobsters in the wrong container, mislabeling paperwork on orchids, and helping injured animals.
Press Briefing on Over-criminalization and U.S. v. Yates, featuring:
Marc Levin, Policy Director, Right on Crime
Vikrant P. Reddy, Senior Policy Analyst, Right on Crime
Adeel Bashir, Counsel for Mr. John Yates
William Shepherd, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Paul J. Larkin, Jr., The Heritage Foundation
Pat Nolan, The American Conservative Union
Monday, November 3, 2014 at 1:30 PM
American Conservative Union
1331 H Street, NW | Suite 500 Washington, DC
This event is sponsored by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the American Conservative Union, the Heritage Foundation and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kevin McVicker with Shirley & Banister Public Affairs at (703) 739-5920 or firstname.lastname@example.org