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Skilling v. United States

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Title: Skilling v. United States  
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Subject: Mail and wire fraud, David Wittig, Trial of Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, Alaska political corruption probe
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Skilling v. United States

Skilling v. United States
Argued March 1, 2010
Decided June 24, 2010
Full case name Jeffrey K. Skilling v. United States
Docket nos. 08-1394
Citations 561 U.S. ___ (more)
Prior history Convictions affirmed, 554 F. 3d 529 (CA5), cert. granted, 558 U. S. ___ (2009)
Subsequent history Prison term of Jeffrey Skilling reduced from 292 months to 172 months (minus time served)
Pretrial publicity and community prejudice did not prevent Skilling from obtaining a fair trial. However, the honest services fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. §1346, is properly confined to cover only bribery and kickback schemes, which do not include Skilling's alleged misconduct. So construed, §1346 is not unconstitutionally vague. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Ginsburg, joined by Roberts, Stevens, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito (part I); Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas (part II); Roberts, Stevens, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor (part III)
Concurrence Scalia, joined by Thomas; Kennedy (except part III)
Concurrence Alito
Concur/dissent Sotomayor, joined by Stevens, Breyer
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. V; 18 U.S.C. § 1346

Skilling v. United States, 561 U.S. ___ (2010), was a United States Supreme Court case interpreting the honest services fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1346. The court held, in the case involving former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, that the honest services fraud statute, which prohibits "a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services", covers only bribes and kickback schemes. Ultimately, Skilling's sentence was reduced by 10 years as a result.


  • Amanda Becker, Lawyers prepare to reopen 'honest services' cases in wake of Supreme Court ruling, Washington Post, August 9, 2010
  • Artur Davis, Court could redefine insider trading. MarketWatch, March 11, 2011
  • Nicholas J. Wagoner, Honest-Services Fraud: The Supreme Court Defuses the Government's Weapon of Mass Discretion in Skilling v. United States, South Texas Law Review, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Winter 2010), p. 1121
  • Thomas P. Cimino, Jr., Junaid A. Zubairi, Rachel C. Adamczyk, Rachel T. Copenhaver, Vedder Price, Supreme Court Limits Scope of “Honest Services” Statute - Skilling v. United States. National Law Review, September 8, 2010
  • Justice Department Seeks a Broader Fraud Law to Cover Self-Dealing, New York Times, September 28, 2010
  • Wesley Burrell, , 44 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 1289 (2011).The Right-to-Honest-Services Doctrine—Enron’s Final Victim: Pure Void-for-Vagueness in Skilling v. United States Available at:

External links

  • Slip opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court
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