Patterico's Pontifications


Overturning the “Honest Services Fraud” Law

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 7:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog analyzes whether, or more likely when, the Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the 1988 “honest services fraud” law that is the basis for the criminal convictions of Conrad Black and Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling.


8 Responses to “Overturning the “Honest Services Fraud” Law”

  1. Is this so Tiger doesn’t have to pay back all that sweet endorsement money?

    happyfeet (2c63dd)

  2. Fitz is planning on reindicting Blago to avoid this issue, too.

    Karl (404c05)

  3. 1.Is this so Tiger doesn’t have to pay back all that sweet endorsement money?

    Comment by happyfeet — 12/8/2009 @ 7:51 pm

    Well, actually, you know, his wife might be a complaining witness too.

    nk (df76d4)

  4. Sure sounds as if many of the Justices have determined that this doesn’t pass the “reasonable man” test.

    AD - RtR/OS! (e93189)

  5. AD’s “reasonable man” reference caused me to go to that SCOTUS link. And reading that link in its entirety caused me to have tangential thoughts.

    Can the average citizen be expected to understand 1000-2100 pages of legalese? Could laws of that length with that much legalese be thrown out based on the “reasonable man” test?

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  6. If John Conyers admits he needs two days and two lawyers to find out what the healthcare bill (at that time, 1000 pages long) means, and he’s not going to do that before he votes “aye”, doesn’t that mean the bill fails the “reasonable man” test?

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  7. If First Amendment rights are not involved, courts are very reluctant to scrutinize a criminal statute in the abstract. They look at it as applied to the conduct of the particular defendant before them and if the statute gave reasonable notice to the defendant that his conduct was illegal, the conviction is upheld.

    Now, whether calling in sick at work when you’re not should be punished by two years in prison may be draconian, and even ridiculous, but not necessarily unconstitutional. It is the legislature’s job to define crimes, not the courts’. Common law, that is judicially defined, crimes have been ruled unconstitutional for quite a while.

    nk (df76d4)

  8. And I think that if we were to look at the cases where a conviction was reversed because of vagueness, the actual test was that its application was so unfair as to shock the conscience.

    nk (df76d4)

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