JFP: Honest Service Laws Under Scrutiny

A change in federal court opinion could soon affect some media-saturated state trials, including the corruption trial of Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter and the ongoing appeal of Mississippi attorney Paul Minor. Court opinion could upend prosecutors’ liberal use of so-called “honest-services” fraud and the RICO statute to indict and convict fundraisers and political figures during the years of the Bush administration.

The swaying of court views was obvious last week during a 30-minute 5th Circuit Court hearing regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2007 conviction of Minor.

A federal jury convicted Minor of guaranteeing campaign loans for some state judges, without prosecutors having to reveal specific examples of what the loan guarantees allegedly bought Minor. In fact, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate allowed the prosecution to remove the requirement of proof of any bribe with which Minor had allegedly influenced the judges.

Jackson Free Press 4/7/9