Monday, July 25, 2011

The Lowdown on "Honest Services"

J.B. Perrine

        Anyone who's been paying attention to the bouncing ball that the Siegelman/Scrushy appeal has become has heard about the "honest services" statute. The statute, which is also being used by prosecutors in the bingo trial, has in the past several years come under appellate review, primarily by the U.S. Supreme Court.
            Recently, J. B. Perrine, one of the prosecutors on the Siegelman/Scrushy team, co-authored an informative piece on the recent travails of the statute and an analysis of its future as a tool for prosecutors bringing cases against white collar defendants in the private and public sector.
            The article, called, "Navigating the Honest Services Fraud Statute: After Skilling v. United States," is in the July issue of, "The Alabama Lawyer," the magazine of the Alabama Bar Association. (To read the piece, download the issue by going here --
            It's written for lawyers and, as such, is technical in some places. However, laymen who've followed the case shouldn't have any difficulty.
            Some quotes from the piece:

            "Despite reports that the Supreme Court 'gutted and eviscerated one of the federal prosecutors' favorite weapons,' Skilling does not provide either public or private officials with carte blanche to dishonestly conduct their affairs."

            "Despite the availability of criminal offenses other than honest services fraud, the Supreme Court in Skilling may have insulated certain conduct from prosecution by federal authorities. An area of particular interest is a public official's receipt of a campaign contribution that is temporally followed by his appointment of the donor to a public position."

            "The exact contours of the honest services fraud statute are presently unknown, but the federal offense certainly encompasses a smaller scope of conduct that it did before the Supreme Court's decision in Skilling..."

            Perrine handled much of the brief writing chores for the Siegelman prosecution team. Last fall, he left the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montgomery for private practice. He opened a Montgomery office for a mid-sized, multi-state law firm called, Bailey & Glasser. Perrine is specializing in white collar criminal defense and complex civil litigation. 

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