“I think lawsuits are filed routinely with respect to their impact on the court of public opinion, even if they’re likely not winners in the court of law.”
“One of the intriguing issues of the 2016 election is the future of medical marijuana – will the new administration enforce federal laws that give no immunity for medical purposes or continue to stand back in states that have legalized it? Trump narrowly carried Florida while 71% of Floridians approved it. Should be interesting.”
The Supreme Court’s decision throwing our the conviction of ex-Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell underscores the difficulties in prosecuting public corruption. Modern era decisions including McNally (1987) that jettisoned then existing prosecutions for “theft of honest services,” McCormick (1991) that imposed a “quid pro quo” requirement on Hobbs Act cases and Skilling (2010) which limited the current version of “honest services fraud,” have reduced the tools for prosecutors. While Congress might someday pass tougher laws, in the meantime, an increasingly broader range of conduct has been legalized even if, as Chief Justice Roberts described it, such conduct is “distasteful” or even “worse than that.”
“While Justice Scalia was best known for conservatism, he was a leading protector of jury trials and he transformed the frequently harsh sentencing guidelines into advisory rather than binding criteria.” – Kendall Coffey on the late Justice Antonin Scalia Photo via Erik Cox Photography / Shutterstock.com
Funding for the brutal operations of the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIS, reportedly includes a million dollars a day from sales of oil taken from captured territories. The U.S. has threatened “powerful and international sanctions” against those who purchase oil from ISIS. Rather than just economic sanctions, though, consideration shall be given to criminally prosecuting the oil buyers under U.S. statutes that outlaw providing material support or resources to designated terrorist organizations such as ISIS. Some U.S. terrorism laws include exterritorial jurisdiction authorizing prosecution for entirely foreign-based conduct if there are certain U.S.-connected results. Violence toward a U.S. citizen – like those who have been cruelly murdered by ISIS – could potentially provide jurisdiction for U.S. prosecution. If individuals can be identified who knowingly made oil purchases funding the terrorist agenda of ISIS, those individuals might be considered for very serious federal crimes, even though there could be complicated issues of arrest and extradition. Past arrests and prosecution have demonstrated to the world that federal prison is no idle threat for terrorists and their financiers. If ISIS buyers can be identified in order to consider economic sanctions, they can be investigated for purposes of criminal prosecution.