“Corruptly” Continues Consistently Confounding Courts: A New Look at “Corruptly Persuades” in 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b) Obstruction of Justice
The word “corruptly” presents significant interpretation problems to courts construing the word in statutes. This word has created a circuit split between the Second and Third Circuits over 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b), which forbids corruptly persuading witnesses not to cooperate with federal authorities. The Second Circuit requires defendants to have an improper purpose for persuading a witness not to cooperate. The Third Circuit requires defendants to know they have a corrupt motive behind their persuasion. Rather than declare one approach superior to the other, this Note instead contends that both Circuits achieve the same outcome for two reasons. First, both circuits rely on equivalent connotations for interpreting “corruptly.” Second, both circuits recognize that some motives for persuading a witness are not corrupt, and thus should not be prosecuted under § 1512(b). Even though the Third Circuit better clarifies that persuasion undertaken for innocent purposes should not be prosecuted, this Note demonstrates that the circuit split over § 1512(b) is not as drastic as other analyses claim.
Connor Nelson, “Corruptly” Continues Consistently Confounding Courts: A New Look at “Corruptly Persuades” in 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b) Obstruction of Justice, 2021 ULR 479 (2021). https://doi.org/10.26054/0D-690C-SNZJ.