“We filed today’s appeal because the District Court ruling last month was fundamentally wrong,” said Heasley in a statement released on Wednesday. “It became clear that the judge based much of his ruling on a deeply flawed assumption and discarded facts, evidence and eyewitness testimony that contradicted it. The Kallianassa crew and I caught the tournament’s only qualifying white marlin fairly, legally and without violating any tournament rules.”
According to the statement, the June 14, 2017 U.S. District Court ruling has been “seen by many within the professional fishing industry as demonstrating a lack of understanding of how fishing tournaments work.”
The appeal filed on Wednesday will focus on two key areas of the ruling including the assumption the Kallianassa put fishing lines in the water prior to the official 8:30 a.m. start time. Another area of focus in the appeal asserts the court made its ruling largely on the post-tournament polygraph tests, which are generally not admissible in federal court because they are often unreliable.
“For the first time in my life, my integrity and honesty have been challenged because of a polygraph test,” said Heasley in the statement. “The impact of this incorrect ruling not only has had great emotional impact on me and my family, but also on my professional captain and crew, who are fine, upstanding men and fishermen who are being unfairly branded as cheats. Whatever the outcome of the appeal, I could not let this ruling stand unchallenged. This has become about more than a winning white marlin. We’re honorable people and we will continue to fight for our reputation and the truth.”
White Marlin Open officials were not surprised by the appeal, saying in a statement, “We are very confident that Judge Bennett’s ruling will stand.”