Monday, July 1, 2013

Sekhar v. United States: A Pyrrhic Victory?

by: Solomon L. Wisenberg

Professor Podgor's concise and outstanding analysis of the Supreme Court's opinion in Sekhar v. United States can be found here.

From the majority opinion:

"It may well be proper under the Hobbs Act for the Government to charge a person who obtains money by threatening a third party, who obtains funds belonging to a corporate or governmental entity by threatening the entity’s agent, see 2 J. Bishop, Criminal Law §408, p. 334, and n. 3 (9th ed. 1923) (citing State v. Moore, 1 Ind. 548 (1849)), or who obtains 'goodwill and customer revenues' by threatening a market competitor, see, e.g., United States v. Zemek, 634 F. 2d 1159, 1173 (CA9 1980). Each of these might be considered 'obtaining property from another.' We need not consider those situations, however, because the Government did not charge any of them here."

From the concurrence:

"To recognize that an internal recommendation regarding a government decision is not property does not foreclose the possibility that threatening a government employee,as the government’s agent, in order to secure government property could qualify as Hobbs Act extortion. Here, after all, petitioner’s ultimate goal was to secure an investment of money from the government. But the jury found only that petitioner had attempted to obtain the general counsel’s recommendation, so I have no occasion to consider whether a Hobbs Act conviction could have been sustained on a different legal theory."

Translation: Note to the Government. Charge the case more intelligently next time.

(wisenberg)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/2013/07/sekhar-v-united-states-a-pyrrhic-victory.html

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