Lawyer files motion for consolidated fishing trial

A lawyer is asking a judge to consolidate the trials of 22 Alaska Native fishermen charged with illegal fishing during a poor salmon run.

Attorney James J. Davis Jr. says in a motion filed Monday in Bethel that consolidating the multiple separate cases into one would allow two specialists on Yup’ik Eskimo culture to act as pro bono experts for all the fishermen. Davis says a status hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Three other fishermen tried separately last month in Bethel were found guilty of violating strict fishing restrictions last summer. The men were each fined $250.

In another motion filed Monday, Davis says the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects fishermen’s “right to engage in the activities for which they have been criminally charged.”