Shaw v. U.S.

Posted: November 30, 2016 by beguide in case summaries, Criminal Procedure, Fantasy Supreme Court League, Uncategorized

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WHAT HAPPENED:  Shaw was charged with allegedly attempting to defraud the following people: his roommate’s father, Wells Fargo, and Paypal.  Out of those three, only the father and Paypal lost anything out of pocket, as Wells Fargo was made whole by Paypal and the father did not qualify for reimbursement.  The specific charge in question for this case required that the Government prove that Shaw must have “intended to defraud a bank or financial institution”.  Shaw was found guilty and this is the appeal of the jury instructions used during his trial.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Shaw argues that the Government has to prove that he intended to defraud Wells Fargo specifically, and Government argues that they only had to prove that Shaw intended to defraud someone.  Although the statute requires that the government prove that Shaw “intended to defraud a bank”, the question is how much is the jury allowed to infer regarding Shaw’s intent, since one could generally assume that Shaw knew Wells Fargo would be affected, but in the same token, Wells Fargo was not harmed nor specifically targeted.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS – Literally, the only thing at issue here the interpretation of the bank fraud statute.  On one hand, looser standards for the Government gives the government more power to prevent bank fraud, but on the other hand, Shaw’s attorneys argued that the Government may have charged the Shaw with the wrong statute; and therefore, this is just a big clean-up mission on behalf of the government.  This is not to say that Shaw didn’t do anything illegal, just that he can’t be found guilty of this specific statute.  Either way, YOU are probably not affected by this case.

ROOT FOR SHAW IF:  You are fan of the little guy (who embezzles money from loved ones).

ROOT FOR U.S. IF:  You are a fan of effective justice (that maybe screwed up on this one).

PREDICTION:  6-2 for U.S.

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