Monday, February 2, 2009
The 11th Circuit in an en banc opinion overruled its prior decision in United States v. Brown, 79 F.3d 1550 (11th Cir. 1996). The court in United States v. Svete held that "the district court did not err when it gave the pattern jury instruction for mail fraud." The remaining issues were remanded for the panel to further consider.
The decision was written by Circuit Judge Pryor. The court held that "Congress has never used any language that would limit the coverage of the mail fraud statute to schemes that would deceive only prudent persons." The court also stated, "[p]roof that a defendant created a scheme to deceive reasonable people is sufficient evidence that the defendant intended to deceive, but a defendant who intends to deceive the ignorant or gullible by preying on their infirmities is no less guilty."
Concurring opinions were by Judges Edmondson (w/ Birch), Tjoflat, and Kravitch.