Shaw v. United States

Brief of Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Petitioner and Urging Reversal.

Brief filed: 07/05/2016


Shaw v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 15-5991

Prior Decision

Decision below U.S. v. Shaw 781 F.3d 1130 (4th Cir. Mar. 27, 2016).


The Court should reverse the court of appeals' decision and reinforce the principle that, no matter how culpable the defendant's behavior, a conviction may only be obtained under a statute that clearly encompasses the conduct at issue. In addition to the rules of statutory interpretation urged in petitioner's brief, the Court should interpret § 1344(1) in light of the principle that "unless Congress conveys its purpose clearly, it will not be deemed to have significantly changed the federal-state balance." To the extent ambiguity remains after the Court has interpreted the statute, "the tie must go to the defendant" under the rule of lenity.

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John D. Cline, Law Office of John D. Cline, San Francisco, CA; Jeffrey L. Fisher, Stanford, CA.