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Volume 2
Chapter Chapter I
Page Number 11
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U.S. Department of Justice

person," with the intent to "influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding" or to "hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer . . . of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense"). To establish corrupt persuasion, it is sufficient that the defendant asked a potential witness to lie to investigators in contemplation of a likely federal investigation into his conduct. United States v. Ed/ind, 887 F.3d 166, 174 (4th Cir. 2018); United States v. Sparks, 791 F.3d 1188, 1191-1192 (10th Cir. 2015); United States v. Byrne, 435 F.3d 16, 23-26 (1st Cir. 2006); United States v. LaShay, 417 F .3d 715, 718-719 (7th Cir. 2005); United States v. Burns, 298 F .3d 523, 539-540 (6th Cir. 2002); United States v. Pennington, 168 F.3d 1060, 1066 (8th Cir. 1999). The "persuasion" need not be coercive, intimidating, or explicit; it is sufficient to "urge," "induce," " ask[]," "argu[ e ]," "giv[ e] reasons," Sparks, 791 F .3d at 1192, or "coach[] or remind[] witnesses by planting misleading facts," Ed/ind, 887 F.3d at 174. Corrupt persuasion is shown "where a defendant tells a potential witness a false story as if the story were true, intending that the witness believe the story and testify to it." United States v. Rodolitz, 786 F.2d 77, 82 (2d Cir. 1986); see United States v. Gabriel, 125 F .3d 89, 102 (2d Cir. 1997). It also covers urging a witness to recall a fact that the witness did not know, even if the fact was actually true. See LaShay, 417 F .3d at 719. Corrupt persuasion also can be shown in certain circumstances when a person, with an improper motive, urges a witness not to cooperate with law enforcement. See United States v. Shotts, 145 F.3d 1289, 1301 (11th Cr. 1998) (telling Secretary "not to [say] anything [to the FBI] and [she] would not be bothered").

When the charge is acting with the intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the communication of information to law enforcement under Section l 512(b)(3), the "nexus" to a proceeding inquiry articulated in Aguilar-that an individual have " knowledge that his actions are likely to affect the judicial proceeding," 515 U.S. at 599-does not apply because the obstructive act is aimed at the communication of information to investigators, not at impeding an official proceeding.

Acting "knowingly ... corruptly" requires proof that the individual was "conscious of wrongdoing." Arthur Andersen, 544 U .S. at 705-706 (declining to explore "[t]he outer limits of this element" but indicating that an instruction was infirm where it permitted conviction even if the defendant "honestly and sincerely believed that [the] conduct was lawful"). It is an affirmative defense that "the conduct consisted solely oflawful conduct.and that the defendant' s sole intention was to encourage, induce, or cause the other person to testify truthfully." 18 U.S.C. § 1512(e).

Attempts and endeavors. Section I 512( c )(2) covers both substantive obstruction offenses and attempts to obstruct justice. Under general principles of attempt law, a person is guilty of an attempt when he has the intent to commit a substantive offense and takes an overt act that constitutes a substantial step towards that goal. See United States v. Resendiz-Ponce, 549 U.S. 102, 106-107 (2007). "[T]he act [must be] substantial, in that it was strongly corroborative of the defendant's criminal purpose." United States v. Pratt, 351 F.3d 131, 135 (4th Cir. 2003). While "mere abstract talk" does not suffice, any "concrete and specific" acts that corroborate the defendant's intent can constitute a "substantial step." United States v. Irving, 665 F.3d 1184, 1198- 1205 (10th Cir. 2011). Thus, " soliciting an innocent agent to engage in conduct constituting an element of the crime" may qualify as a substantial step. Model Penal Code § 5 .01 (2)(g); see United States v. Lucas, 499 F .3d 769, 781 (8th Cir. 2007).

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