Sekhar v. United States

Amicus curiae brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and The Cato Institute in support of petitioner and urging reversal.

Brief filed: 03/04/2013


Sekhar v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 12-357

Prior Decision

Decision below 683 F.3d 436 (2d Cir. 2012).

Question Presented

Whether the “recommendation” of an attorney, who is a salaried employee of a governmental agency, in a single instance, is intangible property that can be the subject of an extortion attempt under 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) (the Hobbs Act) and 18 U.S.C. § 875(d).


This Court has repeatedly applied the rule of lenity and other tools of statutory interpretation to limit prosecutors’ expansive applications of federal criminal statutes. This Court has required a clear statement from Congress before it will interpret a federal criminal statute to shift the federal-state balance in law enforcement. This case implicates the concerns that have caused this Court to interpret criminal statutes narrowly.

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John D. Cline and Jennifer M. French, Law Office of John D. Cline, San Francisco, CA; David M. Porter, Sacramento, CA; Timothy Lynch and Ilya Shapiro, The Cato Institute, Washington, DC.