June 25, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court: Honest Services Fraud Limited to Bribes and Kickbacks - Defendant Need Not Acquiesce to Special Interrogatories to Jury to Preserve Appeal

After considering a trilogy of cases, the Supreme Court of the United States held that Congress’ proscription of fraudulent deprivations of the intangible right of honest services is limited to schemes involving bribes and kickbacks. In Skilling v. United States, the Court vacated the Fifth Circuit’s ruling affirming former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s conspiracy conviction, which was based on an honest services fraud theory pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1346. The Court declined to strike down the statute as unconstitutionally vague, instead concluding that § 1346 “should be construed rather than invalidated” and looking to the “core” of honest services jurisprudence in supporting its construction.  Skilling v. United States, No. 08-1394, slip op. at 39 (U.S. June 24, 2010).

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