Honest Services Fraud: Skilling, Black, and Weyhrauch

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Skilling v. United States, Docket No. 08-1394 (U.S. June 24, 2010); Black v. United States, Docket No. 08-876 (U.S. June 24, 2010); Weyhrauch v. United States, Docket No. 08-1196 (U.S. June 24, 2010).

In a set of opinions handed down on June 24, 2010, the Supreme Court significantly narrowed the scope of the honest services fraud statute but stopped short of striking down the statute as unconstitutionally vague.

In Skilling v. United States, the Court considered the appeal of Jeffrey Skilling, former CEO of Enron. In the wake of Enron’s collapse, Skilling was tried and convicted of, among other things, a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud by depriving Enron and its shareholders of the intangible right of his honest services. One of the issues Skilling raised on appeal was the validity of the honest services fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1346.

The Court unanimously reversed Skilling’s honest services fraud conviction, with five justices joining Justice Ginsburg’s opinion for the Court, and two justices signing onto a concurring opinion by Justice Scalia.

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