U.S.A. v. Andrew Auernheimer

Opinion Vacating Conviction for Improper Venue


Third Circuit vacates conviction of Arkansas man found guilty of conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and identity fraud by a New Jersey federal court. On appeal, Judge Michael A. Chagares, writing for a unanimous panel, held that venue in New Jersey was improper, for either crime charged: "A defendant who has been convicted 'in a distant, remote, or unfriendly forum solely at the prosecutor's whim' has had his substantial rights compromised."

The court further noted in dicta that the substantial contacts test for determining venue has not been formally adopted by the Third Circuit, but went on to say that even if the substantial contacts test applied, venue was improper in New Jersey for charges that defendant conspired to violate Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in furtherance of a violation of New Jersey's computer crime statute, and that he committed identity fraud in connection with a violation of CFAA. The government argued that venue was proper because of the effect the criminal conduct had in New Jersey, but they made no showing as to the other factors of the test, namely the site of defendant's acts, the elements and nature of the crime, and the suitability of each district for accurate factfinding.

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Reference Info:Decision | Federal, 3rd Circuit, New Jersey | United States

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