Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Fortenberry Conviction Reversed on Venue Issue

In United States v. Fortenberry, the Ninth Circuit "reversed former congressman Jeffrey Foretnberry's conviction" for allegedly making a false statement in violation of the false statement statute (18 USC 1001). It remands the case without prejudice to retry in a proper venue. 

The government extends venue beyond its deeped rooted constitutional origins in cases alleging that an "effects-based" test can be used for venue in false statement cases. In rejecting this approach, the Ninth Circuit states:

Because a Section 1001 offense is complete at the time the false statement is uttered, and because no actual effect on federal authorities is necessary to sustain a conviction, the location of the crime must be understood to be the place where the defendant makes the statement.

The court concludes:

Fortenberry’s trial took place in a state where no charged crime was committed, and before a jury drawn from the vicinage of the federal agencies that investigated the defendant. The Constitution does not permit this. Fortenberry’s convictions are reversed so that he may be retried, if at all, in a proper venue.



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