A Pender County jury had to decide the case of the undersized flounder on Thursday.
James Jones, a commercial fisherman for twenty-five years, was on trial for catching an undersized flounder.
The case goes back to august when Jones was spotted gigging a fish. A marine patrolman asked him to measure the fish, and found it was 13-and-a-half inches, half an inch too short to keep under state regulations.
“When it’s an ignorant law, you need to stand up to it,” Jones said.
Jones said he had no intention of keeping the fish and tossed it back. While the officer first issued Jones with a warning, he upped it to a full fledged citation after learning Jones had a previous undersized fish charge from 2006.
“The principal behind it is, the rules have to be applied and the rules have to be enforced. I could have easily dismissed this charge, but I would be telling the wildlife officer don’t do your job,” said Assistant District Attorney Joseph Bowman.
“I’ve got no problem with it being 14 inches but they have got to give us some leeway,” Jones said.
Even with bigger fish to fry in the court system, some say this trail was worth it.
“It was a small case, it wasn’t earth shattering, but I think it’s important if someone does have a view and they feel like they have been wronged then they should have a chance to express that,” said juror Nicholas Herring.
“A lot of people would say that it was a waste of the courts time to go over a case involving a fish but you got to think about North Carolina and it’s resources and they need to be protected,” added fellow juror David Lorenz.
In the end, maybe justice prevailed for the fish. The jury deliberated for a half hour to find Jones guilty of possession of an undersized flounder.
Cases like this don’t usually go to trial. The assistant DA said he offered Jones a deal to pay the fines for a lesser charge, but Jones refused saying he did nothing wrong.
Now, Jones will have to serve 12 months of unsupervised probation, pay over $400 in fines and court costs, and could potentially have his fishing license suspended.