January 9, 2006
Supreme Court Rejects "Honest Services" Case
The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in a racketeering case involving mail fraud's honest services provision. (See Chicago Tribune here).
Betty Loren-Maltese was the President of the Town of Cicero, Illinois, appointed upon the death of husband, who died from cancer. She was charged with RICO conspiracy and five counts of mail and wire fraud. Despite the fact that the government failed to show any money going to her, she was convicted of these crimes. One of the arguments she made in her Petition for Certiorari was that the Court needed "to decide whether the ‘honest services’ statute is unconstitutionally vague and to resolve a conflict in the circuits over how to interpret the statute so that it complies with due process."
This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has denied certiorari on a claim involving 18 U.S.C. sec. 1346, the section that allows for mail and wire fraud to be premised on a "right to honest services." This denial reminds one of the many cases that had a similar argument rejected prior to the Supreme Court's acceptance of the case of McNally v. United States, a case that reversed the government's use of an "intangible rights" doctrine and destroyed many of the convictions that had been obtained by the government.
Will it take a long line of cases being denied cert. before the Supreme Court eventually takes a case to resolve whether a statute premised on the clause "honest services" is too vague to be constitutionally sound?
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