Jury Instructions, RICO "Enterprise"

Criminal Law Update

Boyle v United States, __ US__; 129 S Ct 2237 (2009)(june'09).During defendant's RICO prosecution the district court denied his request for a jury instruction requiring the government to prove that the enterprise had "an ascertainable structural hierarchy distinct from the charged predicate acts." Instead the court instructed the jury that to establish a RICO "enterprise," the government must prove an ongoing organization with a framework, and that association members functioned as a continuing unit to achieve a common purpose.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's holding. The Supreme Court found that an association-in-fact enterprise under RICO must have a "structure," but the pertinent jury instruction need not be framed in the precise language the defendant proposed.By explicitly telling jurors they could not convict on the RICO charges unless they found that the government had proved the existence of an enterprise, the instructions made clear that this was a separate element from the pattern of racketeering activity. The jurors also were adequately told that the enterprise needed the structural attributes that may be inferred from the statutory language.SeeUnited States v Turkette, 452 US 576.