The Supreme Court revisited the Chris Christie administration last week with a decision in Kelly v. United States that reversed the corruption convictions of two top gubernatorial aides. The charges stemmed from their role in the partial closing, and resulting traffic jam, of the George Washington Bridge.
Sixth Circuit blogger Ben Glassman recently published his views on how the ruling will–and won’t–affect public-corruption prosecutions going forward.
Although the Supreme Court characterized this conduct as an abuse of power, it held that Kelly and Baroni had not committed federal wire fraud or fraud against a federally funded program because both laws criminalize schemes to obtain money or property—and the defendants here sought political punishment, not property. …
Substantively, the Kelly decision does cut back somewhat on federal prosecutors’ ability to use wire fraud in charging public corruption. It gives additional force to arguments that the use of public employees’ time and labor must be an object of the scheme, not incidental to it. But it does not cut back that statute in nearly the way that Skilling v. United States, 561 U.S. 358 (2010), narrowed the construction of honest services fraud.
You can read the whole post here.