Weyhrauch v. United States

PETITIONER: Bruce Weyhrauch
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION:

DOCKET NO.: 08-1196
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2009-2010)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 561 US 476 (2010)
GRANTED: Jun 29, 2009
ARGUED: Dec 08, 2009
DECIDED: Jun 24, 2010

ADVOCATES:
Donald B. Ayer - for the petitioner
Michael R. Dreeben - Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the respondent

Facts of the case

Bruce Weyhrauch was charged in the Alaska federal district court in part with a "scheme and artifice to defraud and deprive the State of Alaska of its intangible right to [his] honest services." Mr. Weyhrauch was a member of the Alaska House of Representatives and allegedly took actions favorable to an Alaska oil company, VECO Corp., in return for future employment. At trial, Mr. Weyhrauch moved to exclude evidence related to the honest services charge. The district court excluded the evidence because it would merely have shown that Alaska could have imposed a duty upon Mr. Weyhrauch to disclose the conflict of interest, and thus did not prove he had violated any duty imposed by state law.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed. It held that 18 U.S.C. Section 1346 established a uniform standard for "honest services" that governs every public official and that the government did not need to prove an independent violation of state law to sustain an honest services fraud conviction. Therefore, the court reasoned that because the district court excluded the evidence needed to prove that state law imposed an affirmative duty on Mr. Weyhrauch to disclose the conflict of interest, the evidence was admissible.

Question

To convict a state official for depriving the public of its right to the defendant's honest services in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1341 and Section 1346, must the government prove that the defendant violated a disclosure duty imposed by state law?

Media for Weyhrauch v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 2009 in Weyhrauch v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 24, 2010 in Weyhrauch v. United States

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Finally, I announced the decisions in numbers 08-1196 Weyhrauch v. United States.

In this case the court states unanimously and per curium, the judgment is vacated and the case is remanded to the United States, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for further consideration in light of Skilling v. United States.