Thursday, April 3, 2008
Reading the reports from those who were there, it sounds like the Skilling bench was a quiet one. But then again - a lot of the argument dealt with "honest services" under the mail fraud statute.
The mail fraud statute is an 1872 statute that was a section in a revision of the Postal Act. In the 1970's prosecutors extended mail fraud to prosecute cases involving "intangible rights." In the case of McNally v. United States, the Supreme Court shot this doctrine down finding that "money or property" was required. Congress came back with a new statute 18 U.S.C. 1346 that allowed prosecutions premised on a right to "honest services." But the statute has been problematic in both its breadth and in the government's attempt to extend it in new ways. The courts as seen in the Brown case, have provided limits to what might appear as a limitless statute. But the bottom line is that this statute has numerous problems, both in its wording and in its application. And because mail fraud is difficult to understand, it is not surprising that a hearing related to this crime might prove dry.
Loren Steffy - Houston Chronicle Business Blog - Skilling's Appeal Opens With a Bang, Ends With a Whimper
(Houston Chronicle) AP Court Hears Appeal of Enron's Skilling