United States v. Lee
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
937 F.2d 1388 (1991)
An undercover operation by the United States National Marine Fisheries and the Department of Commerce determined that Patrick Lee and his associates (the fishermen) (defendants) were selling salmon caught in Northern Pacific waters by squid-fishing vessels in violation of a Taiwanese regulation prohibiting such fishing. In exchange for $1.3 million, the fishermen arranged for the salmon to be smuggled into the United States under fraudulent certificates of origin. The fishermen were arrested and charged by the United States (plaintiff) with violation of the Lacey Act (the act), which prohibited the importation of fish or wildlife taken in violation of any foreign law. The congressional record confirmed that an element of scienter, a higher standard of criminal culpability, was included to allay fears of inappropriate criminal prosecution if the underlying offense was civil in nature. Only one of the fishermen was captain of a squid-fishing vessel who could have also violated the Taiwanese regulation. The fishermen filed a motion to dismiss, arguing (1) the Taiwanese regulation did not constitute a foreign law, (2) the act was inapplicable to foreign regulations that impose only civil penalties, and (3) the act was unconstitutionally vague. The motion to dismiss was denied. The fishermen pleaded guilty but reserved their right to challenge the act on appeal.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wallace, C.J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 724,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 724,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 45,600 briefs, keyed to 983 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.