The Food Institute Blog

The Food Institute Blog

Fisherman Escapes Sarbanes-Oxley’s Wide Net
Posted on February 26, 2015 by Brian Todd

Ambiguous laws can cause problems for businesses and individuals. This is borne out by the recent Supreme Court decision in Yates vs U.S.  Much to the chagrin of federal prosecutors, the Court ruled on Feb. 25 that the anti-shredding provision of 2002's Sarbanes-Oxley   law (Sarbox) does not apply to fish – something that most laymen would view as obvious since Sarbox was put in place to prevent corporate malfeasance not protect undersized fish.

In the case, the prosecution alleged that the anti-shredding provision (section 1519) of Sarbox applied to three undersized grouper fish John Yates caught in 2007 but were subsequently found to be missing. In the 5-4 decision Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote that “only objects one can use to record or preserve information, not all objects in the physical world,” are covered under Sarbox, which was implemented to prevent corporate malfeasance.

Even in the dissenting opinion, Justice Elaine Kagan commented that the section is a “bad law....which gives prosecutors too much leverage and sentencers too much discretion.”

Full decision


About the Author

Brian Todd
The Food Institute

Brian became president of The Food Institute in 2002 and has worked for this non-profit, founded in 1928, since 1980. Brian has been interviewed on consumer and food industry trends on a number of television programs, including Fox News, The Today Show, NBC News, the CBS Evening News and the PBS Nightly Business Report, and quoted in publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal and New York Times to Supermarket News, Progressive Grocer and Food Processing magazine. He has also been a frequent guest on various Public radio programs discussing food prices, mergers & acquisitions, and other industry issues.

Brian graduated from Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ with a B.A. in Political Science and also holds a Masters in Administrative Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University.


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