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White Collar Crime

Yates v. United States - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 3-17-15
Todd F. Braunstein March 17, 2015

On February 25, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Yates v. United States. This case concerns whether Mr. Yates’ order to his crew to throw undersized fish back into the Gulf of Mexico during the course of a government wildlife investigation violated the "document shredding provision" of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 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.

Justice Ginsburg announced the judgment of a divided Court, and delivered a plurality opinion concluding that for purposes of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a "tangible object" refers to an object used to record or preserve information.  Justice Alito concurred, on somewhat narrower grounds.

Justice Ginsburg was joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Breyer and Sotomayor. Justice Alito filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Kagan filed a dissenting opinion, which Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas joined. The judgment of the Eleventh circuit was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.

To discuss the case, we have Todd Braunstein who is Counsel at WilmerHale.

Florida Fisherman off the Hook for Sarbanes-Oxley Violation: Supreme Court decides Yates v. United States - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Podcast
Todd F. Braunstein March 11, 2015

In a 4-1-4 decision issued on February 25, 2015, the United States Supreme Court held that a federal criminal law prohibiting the destruction of corporate records and other “tangible objects” could not be used against a commercial fisherman who threw undersized fish overboard to avoid prosecution. The decision featured an unusual lineup of justices, wave after wave of fishing metaphors, and a citation to Dr. Seuss. Todd Braunstein covered the November oral arguments on a Teleforum conference call, and he returned to wade through the complicated decision.

  • Todd F. Braunstein, Counsel, WilmerHale

Yates v. United States - Post-Argument SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 11-21-14 featuring Todd Braunstein
Todd F. Braunstein November 21, 2014

On November 5, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Yates v. United States. This case concerns whether Mr. Yates was given fair notice that throwing undersized fish back into the Gulf of Mexico during the course of an investigation would violate the "document shredding provision" of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 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.

To discuss the case, we have Todd Braunstein who is Counsel at WilmerHale.

Something Fishy in Sarbanes-Oxley? Yates v. United States - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Podcast
Todd F. Braunstein November 06, 2014

At issue in Yates v. United States is the "anti-shredding" provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which makes it a federal crime if one “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 a federal criminal investigation. John Yates was criminally prosecuted because he allegedly destroyed three fish that were too small to be caught legally. According to Mr. Yates, his prosecution was improper because he could not have had fair notice that a fish would be considered a “tangible object." Our expert attended the oral arguments and offered his impressions to a live Teleforum audience.

  • Mr. Todd F. Braunstein, Counsel, WilmerHale

Residual Class Action Awards: Cy Pres - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
Brian T. Fitzpatrick, Theodore H. Frank March 21, 2014

gavel money

Cy pres (from the French cy pres comme —“as near as possible”) originated in the trust context, but has more recently been applied to class action litigation, as courts try to determine what to do with sometimes significant amounts of settlement funds remaining after all identified plaintiff awards have been made.  In recent decades, courts have agreed to award such remaining funds to third party recipients who, while not parties to the underlying suits, are deemed worthy by the court.  Sometimes, the courts have selected these third party recipients based on recommendations from the attorneys representing the plaintiffs.  What are the legal underpinnings for such awards to entities or people not party to the underlying case?  What are the policy considerations in making or prohibiting such awards?  These and other questions were discussed by our experts.

Featuring:

  • Prof. Brian T. Fitzpatrick, Vanderbilt University Law School
  • Mr. Theodore H. Frank, Founder and President, Center for Class Action Fairness and Adjunct Fellow, Manhattan Institute Center for Legal Policy

[Listen now!]