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Honest Services

Excerpts from the syllabus in Skilling v. United States:

1. Pretrial publicity and community prejudice did not prevent Skilling from obtaining a fair trial.

(a) The District Court did not err in denying Skilling's requests for a venue transfer. Pp. 11-19.

(b) No actual prejudice contaminated Skilling's jury. The Court rejects Skilling's assertions that voir dire did not adequately detect and defuse juror prejudice and that several seated jurors were biased.Pp. 20-34.

2. Section 1346, which proscribes fraudulent deprivations of "the intangible right of honest services," is properly confined to cover only bribery and kickback schemes.

(b) Section 1346, properly confined to core cases, is not unconstitutionally vague. Pp. 38-51.

(c) Skilling did not violate ยง1346, as the Court interprets the statute. 
The Government charged Skilling with conspiring to defraud Enron's shareholders by misrepresenting the company's fiscal health to his own profit, but the Government never alleged that he solicited or accepted side payments from a third party in exchange for making these misrepresentations. Because the indictment alleged three objects of the conspiracy--honest-services wire fraud, money-or-property wire fraud, and securities fraud--Skilling's conviction is flawed. See Yates v. United States, 354 U. S. 298. This determination, however, does not necessarily require reversal of the conspiracy conviction, for errors of the Yates variety are subject to harmless-error analysis. The Court leaves the parties' dispute about whether the error here was harmless for resolution on remand, along with the question whether reversal on the conspiracy count would touch any of Skilling's other convictions. Pp. 49-50.

In the companion case of Black v. United States, the Court holds that Black preserved for appeal his objection on the same grounds advanced by Skilling.  Wehyrauch v. United States  is kicked back to USCA9 in light of Skilling.

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