Sekhar v. United States

Petitioner Giridhar C. Sekhar was convicted of extortion under federal law for threatening to expose an extramarital affair unless the General Counsel for the State Comptroller recommended that the state pension fund invest in a fund managed by Sekhar’s company. The Court will determine the limits of the meaning of the word “property” under federal extortion law, and whether the General Counsel's recommendation was "property" that could be subject to extortion. The Court’s decision will have implications for the scope of federal extortion law and, more generally, for the balance between enforcement of federal and state criminal law when the two overlap. Petitioner argues for a narrow definition of property, limited to something of value that is transferable. Respondent calls for a broader view of property to include the legal advice given by lawyers.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Whether the “recommendation” of an attorney, who is a salaried employee of a governmental agency, in a single instance, is intangible property that can be the subject of an extortion attempt under 18 U.S.C. §1951(a)(the Hobbs Act) and 18 U.S.C. §875(d).




Is the recommendation of an attorney considered "property" which can be extorted for purposes of federal anti-extortion law?


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Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach (11-626)

The City of Riviera Beach seized Fane Lozman’s houseboat after he did not comply with new city regulations. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s holding that the indefinitely moored houseboat was a “vessel” for purposes of maritime jurisdiction under 1 U.S.C. § 3. Lozman argues that courts should interpret “vessel” purposively and that his houseboat was not a vessel because its purpose was not to transport people or goods. The City of Riviera Beach counters that the definition of “vessel” requires a capability test that asks merely if the structure is capable of transporting people or goods. Additionally, both parties and the U.S. Solicitor General argue the subsequent purchase and destruction of Lozman’s houseboat by the City of Riviera Beach does not render the case moot because of a $25,000 security bond that the City posted. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case may reshape the role of state and federal courts in some maritime matters. The decision could also expand current maritime legislation to apply to structures such as casino boats or floating homes, or remove federal legislative protections for maritime lenders.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Whether a floating structure that is indefinitely moored receives power and other utilities from shore and is not intended to be used in maritime transportation or commerce constitutes a "vessel" under 1 U.S.C. § 3, thus triggering federal maritime jurisdiction.

The res in the putative in rem admiralty proceeding was sold at judicial auction in execution of the District Court’s judgment on a maritime lien and maritime trespass claim, Petn. App. 9a-10a, and subsequently destroyed, Petr. Br. 10-11. Does either the judicial auction or the subsequent destruction of the res render this case moot?

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intangible property

Property without a physical existance. 

Some intangible property might have a paper embodiment, (such as stocks, bonds, or certificates) but other intangible property does not (goodwill, intellectual property, reputation).  Due to this characteristic, intangible property may be difficult to value, but is still a form of property.



community property with right of survivorship

Property that is jointly owned by both spouses; and on the death of one spouse their 1/2 share will pass directly to the other spouse without going through probate.

For example, Husband and Wife own a house in a community property state.  Each owns 1/2 of the whole house.  When Husband dies, Wife will take husbands interest, and Wife will own the entire house.




Treasure trove

French for treasure found. When a person finds valuables such as gold, silver, or diamonds that are hidden in the ground or some other private place and the owner of these is unknown. The finder can usually claim title to the goods against all individuals but the true owner.


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