Skip to main content

Supreme Court will decide if tossing fish destroyed records

Several U.S. Supreme Court justices were skeptical of arguments Wednesday from a government lawyer defending the prosecution of a Florida fisherman who threw three undersized red grouper back into the Gulf of Mexico.

The case stemmed from a search in 2007 of Miss Katie, a boat owned by fisherman John L. Yates, according to a New York Times report. John Jones, an officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, boarded the boat at sea and saw grouper that seemed to be smaller than the 20-inch length that was the minimum legal size at that time.

Jones measured the fish and placed the 72 he deemed too small in a crate. He issued a citation and instructed Yates to take the crate to port for seizure, but Yates threw the fish overboard and had his crew replace them with larger ones.

A second inspection in port found only 69 undersized fish and aroused suspicions. A crewmember eventually told law enforcement officials what happened.