Many of the rioters have been charged with (and convicted of) violating 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2): “[w]hoever corruptly . . . obstructs influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined . . . or imprisoned . . . .” The theory is that the January 6 rioters sought to obstruct Congress’s certification of the 2020 election results. The federal courts in D.C. have spent the last two years adjudicating defendants’ challenges to various elements of this statute. Among the issues courts have had to face are defendant arguments that they did not act with the requisite “corrupt” mens rea and that “corruptly” is unconstitutionally vague. And litigation around the meaning of “corruptly” shows no signs of letting up: in Count Three of his January 6-related federal indictment, Donald Trump stands charged with corruptly obstructing the electoral vote certification in violation of § 1512(c)(2). Indictment, United States v. Donald J. Trump, No. 23-cr-00257 (D.D.C. Aug.1, 2023). As discussed below, January 6 cases have exposed a significant lack of clarity around
Any endeavor done with the requisite intent violates the statute. U.S. v. Mitchell, 877 F.2d 294 (4th Cir. 1989).IV. OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE AND THE VICTIM AND WITNESS PROTECTION ACT UNDER 18 U.S.C. SECTION 1512.Lawyers who are interviewing and preparing witnesses during internal corporate investigations must thoroughly understand the breadth of 18 U.S.C. § 1512. This statute was enacted in 1982 as part of the Victim and Witness Protection Act and represents a congressional intent to criminalize any tampering with potential witnesses in official proceedings.A. No Need to Show That a Judicial Proceeding is Pending.
Arthur Andersen was one of the many casualties of the collapse of Enron Corporation. In 2002, a jury found the once well respected firm guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(b)(2)(A) and (B). These sections make it a crime to “knowingly use intimidation or physical force, threaten, or corruptly persuade another person . . . with intent to . . . cause” that person to “withhold” documents from, or “alter” documents for use in, an “official proceeding.”
The proof at trial demonstrated a money-laundering scheme which had no connection whatsoever to the payment of any income taxes. Reversible error.United States v. Floresca, 38 F.3d 706 (4th Cir. 1994)The defendant was charged with violating 18 U.S.C. §1512(b)(1), witness tampering. In instructing the jury, however, the trial court included within its definition of §1512(b)(1), the offense described in §1512(b)(3), which describes an entirely separate offense of hindering or preventing another from reporting a federal offense.
While detained in Egypt, Pugh attempted to destroy or destroyed some of the electronic devices he had in his possession, which were later determined to contain information relating to ISIS. Pugh was ultimately convicted of attempting to support a foreign terrorist organization, see 18 U.S.C. §2339B(a)(1), and obstruction and attempted obstruction of an official proceeding, see 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(1) and (c)(2). He was sentenced to the maximum sentence on each count, to run consecutively, which amounted to a total effective sentence of 420 months.
This was reversible error, not subject to harmless error analysis.United States v. Stansfield, 101 F.3d 909 (3rd Cir. 1996)The defendant was charged with a violation of 18 U.S.C. §1512(a)(1)(C), attempting to kill a witness to prevent him from communicating with a federal law enforcement officer about a federal offense, but the jury was instructed pursuant to §1512(b)(3): intimidating, or using physical force, to prevent a person from communicating with a federal law enforcement officer about a federal offense. This was not what the defendant was charged with, or tried for, and thus, the conviction was reversed.
U.S. Sparks, 2015 WL 3916626 (6/26/15) (Kan.) (Published) - The 10th holds the evidence was sufficient to convict Mr. Sparks of witness tampering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(1) where Mr. Sparks' daughter faced federal charges of distributing oxymorphone resulting in death; 3 weeks before trial Mr. Sparks brought his granddaughter, a potential witness at trial, to jail to visit her mother, Mr. Sparks' daughter; after the visit Mr. Sparks took his granddaughter to dinner; at dinner she said an investigator had talked to her; he told her: "you should only lie about important stuff." The government did not have to show Mr. Sparks did anything else, such as a threat or emotional appeal or repeated urging.
DocketDecision below (CTA 11)Question Presented (phrasing by On Point; check Docket or Scotusblog links for subsequent posting of official recitation)Whether conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(1)(C) (murder with intent to prevent a person from communicating information about federal offense to federal law enforcement officer or judge) requires proof of an ongoing or imminent federal investigation.Scotusblog pageNo immediately apparent implications for state practice in this grant.
First – let’s start with some background definitions. Witness tampering is attempting to improperly influence, intimidate, or impede a witness’s testimony or cooperation in criminal proceedings codified in US Federal law at 18 USC § 1512, with every state carrying corresponding laws on the books. In short, the law says you are guilty of the crime of witness tampering if you:1. Kill or attempt to kill another person with the intent to prevent their testimony. 2. Use intimidation, threats, or corrupt persuasion, to hinder, delay, or prevent testimony. 3. Engage in misleading conduct toward another person with the intent to hinder, delay, or prevent testimony.Witness tampering is so bad, not merely for the act itself, but the effect that allowing this behavior would have on our entire judicial system. The Pennsylvania Benchbook for Judges (Third Edition) has a particularly poignant quote from Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes, who wrote:“Justice requires a search for truth in an environment that respects the rights of all parties to the system. Truth cannot be spoken in fear. Witness intimidation strikes at the very heart of our system of criminal justice, crippling our ability to function fairly, decently and with integrity…
It refers back to prior Information To Be Disclosed by the Provider Section II, and states.All information described above in Section II.10.a. that constitutes evidence, contraband, fruits, or instrumentalities of violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act , 22 U.S.C. 611, et seq., restrictions on former officers of the Executive Branch, 18 U.S.C. 207(f), obstruction of justice , 18 U.S.C. 1512(c), aiding and abetting, 18 U.S.C. 2(a), and conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. 371, namely:i. Information relating to who created, accessed, or used the SUBJECT ACCOUNT, including records about their identities and whereabouts.ii.