Wednesday, July 08, 2015

11th reverses honest services conviction

Jury instructions were the cause in United States v. Aunspaugh:

This is an honest-services fraud case. On one view of the evidence, the defendants participated in a classic kickback scheme. On another view, the scheme involved an egregious conflict of interest but no kickback. Under Skilling v. United States, 561 U.S. 358 (2010), the defendants’ conduct constituted honest- services fraud only on the first view, not the second. Because the jury instructions would have allowed a conviction on either view of the evidence, we vacate the honest-services convictions. We also vacate other convictions that depend on the honest-services convictions. But we uphold convictions for structuring financial transactions not dependent on the honest-services convictions. 

The panel also said this about acceptance at the new sentencing:

We add one other note about sentencing. The Aunspaughs argue that the district court improperly inferred a lack of remorse because they chose not to plead guilty but remained silent instead. They argue that the court’s consideration of these things violated their constitutional rights. See, e.g., United States v. Rodriguez, 959 F.2d 193, 197 (11th Cir. 1992) (noting that a district court may weigh remorse in a defendant’s favor but must not “weigh against the defendant the defendant’s exercise of constitutional or statutory rights”). Because we remand for resentencing, we do not address this issue today. The district court should resentence the defendants without weighing against them their exercise of constitutional rights.


Anonymous said...

Only one 11th Circuit Judge? I thought the emergency was over.

Anonymous said...

Once I saw that two visiting judges were on the panel, I lost my enthusiasm.

Bet it gets reversed en banc...

Anonymous said...

To be fair, Restani sits so often on the 11th Cir that she should count as half an 11th Cir judge. She has a working relationship with the other judges that is far closer to an 11th cir judge than to a true visiting judge who may only sit once and never sit again.