Skilling v. United States

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Skilling v. United States
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued March 1, 2010
Decided June 24, 2010
Full case nameJeffrey K. Skilling v. United States
Docket no. 08-1394
Citations561 U.S. 358 ( more )
130 S. Ct. 2896; 177 L. Ed. 2d 619
Case history
PriorConvictions affirmed, 554 F.3d 529 (5th Cir. 2009), cert. granted, 558 U.S. ___(2009).
SubsequentPrison term of Jeffrey Skilling reduced from 24 years and 4 months to 14 years (minus time served)
Pretrial publicity and community prejudice did not prevent Skilling from obtaining a fair trial. However, the honest services fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. §1346, is properly confined to cover only bribery and kickback schemes, which do not include Skilling's alleged misconduct. So construed, §1346 is not unconstitutionally vague. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.
Court membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
John P. Stevens  · Antonin Scalia
Anthony Kennedy  · Clarence Thomas
Ruth Bader Ginsburg  · Stephen Breyer
Samuel Alito  · Sonia Sotomayor
Case opinions
MajorityGinsburg, joined by Roberts, Stevens, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito (Part I); Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas (Part II); Roberts, Stevens, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor (Part III)
ConcurrenceScalia (in part), joined by Thomas; Kennedy (except Part III)
ConcurrenceAlito (in part)
Concur/dissentSotomayor, joined by Stevens, Breyer
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. V; 18 U.S.C.   § 1346

Skilling v. United States, 561 U.S. 358 (2010), is a United States Supreme Court case interpreting the honest services fraud statute, 18 U.S.C.   § 1346. The case involves former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and the honest services fraud statute, which prohibits "a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services". The Court found the statute vague, meaning it was written in a manner that almost anyone could be convicted of the statute by engaging in most legal activities. However, the Court refused to void the statute as unconstitutionally vague. The Court decided to limit the application of the statute only to defendants who hold a fiduciary duty and they participate in bribery and kickback schemes. The Court supported its decision not to rule the statute void for vagueness on its obligation to construe and not condemn Congress' laws. Ultimately, Skilling's sentence was reduced by 10 years as a result.


In light of the court's findings, a similar case, Weyhrauch v. United States, involving former Alaska representative Bruce Weyhrauch, [1] was returned to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where federal charges were eventually dropped. [2] [3]


  1. Liptak, Adam (June 24, 2010). "Justices Limit Use of 'Honest Services' Law Against Fraud". The New York Times . Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  2. Miller, Matt (February 17, 2016). "Former Juneau lawmaker fined $18K for allegedly helping oil companies while seeking oil jobs". KTOO. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  3. Murphy, Kim (October 22, 2011). "Corruption case against former Alaska legislator crumbled". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved March 28, 2017.

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