CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"NACDL President Comments on Honest Services Trilogy"

Guest blogger Solomon L. Wisenberg has this post at White Collar Crime Prof Blog linking to the press release from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. From the press release:

In Skilling, on which the Court relies in its decisions in both Black v. United States and Weyhrauch v. United States, also decided today, the Court’s opinion is clear, “To preserve the statute without transgressing constitutional limitations, we now hold that § 1346 criminalizes only the bribe-and-kickback core of the pre-­McNally case law,” citing a 1987 case that overturned a previous version of the law. The Court goes on to specifically exclude from the ambit of this statute the pre-McNally conflict-of-interest cases. “In sum, our construction of §1346 ‘establish[es] a uniform national standard, define[s] honest services with clarity, reach[es] only seriously culpable conduct, and accomplish[es] Congress’s goal of ‘overruling’ McNally.’” But NACDL President Cynthia Hujar Orr explained that, “We are nonetheless disappointed that the Court has held that there remains a place in our criminal justice system for a statute on whose meaning few can agree.”

Orr did say that she is “heartened that the Court has unambiguously rejected government arguments that the ‘honest services’ fraud statute can be properly used across as broad a range of conduct as the government has sought to do in recent years.” Nonetheless, Orr expects “to see future litigation surrounding efforts by prosecutors to wedge their cases into the ‘bribe or kickback’ paradigm to which the Court has now limited this statute.”

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