The Champion

September - October 2016 , Page 53 

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White Collar Crime Policy: Once Again, SCOTUS Scolds DOJ for Overreaching

By Mario Meeks


On June 27, 2016, in an 8-0 opinion, the Supreme Court sent a clear message to federal prosecutors — stop overreaching in public corruption cases. Just like the Court’s decision in Skilling v.United States,1 the decision in McDonnell v. United States highlights a major concern that NACDL has been focused on for years: prosecutors’ abuse of vague statutes enacted by Congress, which use broad definitions of prohibited conduct. As NACDL has argued for years2 and did so in its amicus brief, authored by John D. Cline, criminal statutes should not permit the arbitrary criminalization of conduct without meaningful definition or limitation. The Supreme Court agreed with NACDL. In a unanimous decision written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court rejected the government’s “boundless” interpretation of what constitutes an impermissible “official act” under the federal bribery statute (18 U.S.C. § 201), as incorporated into the Hobbs Act (18 U.S.C. § 1951), and the federal honest se

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