Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Circuit Snippets

In the prosecution of Jeffrey Skilling, former CEO of Enron, the government sufficiently complied with its Brady and Giglio obligations by providing the exculpatory material, along with hundreds of millions of pages of other documents, and left it to the defense to figure out what it wanted, the 5th Circuit held. The 5th reasoned that the government did not simply dump the material, but rather provided a searchable electronic file, a set of documents it thought important, indices, and access to databases of related litigation. Additionally, the government was in no better position than the defense to find relevant material, and there was no evidence the government tried to hide the exculpatory material in bad faith. However, Skilling's convictions, including one for "honest services fraud," were affirmed. The court remanded for resentencing after concluding that the employees' 401(k) plan was not a financial institution for purposes of USSG 2B1.1(b)(14). US v. Skilling, No. 06-20885 (5th Cir. 1/6/09)

The 2d Circuit held that officers did not violate the 4th amendment by having a drug-detecting dog sniff the bushes around a defendant's back yard, and the drugs found in the bushes did not have to be suppressed. US v. Hayes, No. 07-0063 (2d cir. 12/24/08)

The 4th Circuit held that the federal law allowing for civil commitment of sex offenders, 18 USC 4248, exceeded Congress' legislative authority under the Constitution, and struck it down. The circuit court concluded that the statute does not fall within any of the enumerated powers granted to the federal government. US v. Comstock, No. 07-7671 (4th Cir. 1/8/09)

Direct deposit of salaries obtained by fraud were a sufficient use of the interstate wires to support a federal conviction for wire fraud, even if the direct deposits were required by the employer, the 7th Cir. held. US v. Turner, No. 07-1062 (7th Cir. 12/30/08)