Oral argument: Dec. 8, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (June 25, 2008)
FRAUD, WHITE-COLLAR CRIME, HONEST SERVICES
The United States convicted Petitioners Conrad Black, John Boultbee, and Mark Kipnis of mail and wire fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1341. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the convictions, rejecting arguments that the trial judge erred in failing to instruct the jury that a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1346 requires contemplation of economic harm to the party to whom one owes “honest services.” The Seventh Circuit further held that objection to the prosecution’s request for a special verdict constituted waiver of the right to challenge the trial judge’s instruction in light of the fact that a special verdict would have clarified whether the trial judge’s instruction regarding honest services fraud was the basis for the convictions. The Supreme Court’s decision will determine the limits of the honest services provision and the means by which to preserve instructional error.