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October 24, 2005

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John Sciortino

It's always a treat to read your take on the federal crimnal stuff. Have you read the 7th Cir. model jury instruction for mail fraud? It won't make you any happier -- "In considering whether the government has proven a scheme. . . it is essential that one or more of the [false pretenses, representations, promises and] acts charged in the portion of the indictment describing the scheme be proved establishing the existence of the scheme beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the government is not required prove all of them."

I have not read the Ryan indictment and couldn't comment on it anyway, but I think you may overstate things with these kitchen sink and throwing-dirt-at-the-wall metaphors. The prosecutors undoubtedly very carefully picked things (apparently many things) they had lots of evidence for to include in the indictment. As a practical matter, if they didn't, any good defense attorney would walk the jury through paragraph after paragraph of the indictment in closing argument, pointing out all the stuff that wasn't proven. It's a very effective technique, one to be avoided if possible in crafting an indictment.

Clever idea about a federal statute covering local bribery, based on the "republican form of government" clause. The closest thing we have to it is 18 USC 666, which (among other things) prohibits bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. You would be astounded at the number of state and local programs that receive federal funds though.

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