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Honest Services Law: Honestly, now!

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For the record:

The “honest services law” is 18 U.S.C. 1346, which is a federal (not state) law that is found in the U.S. Code. It has a complex and fascinating (to some) history and is not simply about “honest services.” Honestly!

TITLE 18, § 1346:Definition of “scheme or artifice to defraud”

For the purposes of this chapter, the term “scheme or artifice to defraud” includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.”

Yup, that’s all it says. But it has BIG MEANING, much of which no one can agree on, which makes for some very exciting legal discussions.

Honestly, now : It’s bad enough that print and online news reporters and bloggers can’t cite (let alone link duh) properly to the cases and statutes, and other laws, they refer to in articles and blog posts, but honestly now — I keep seeing references to “the honest services law,” as if everyone should know what that is.

I’m beginning to wonder if even the news writers knows what it is. I have to assume the legal writers do know, but I’m not so sure about “mainstream media” reporters who often get very confused when writing about legal topics. (Call a law librarian!)

And why none of them can link to the law is completely beyond me. How else do you educate your readers? And if you don’t even try, those readers may very well grow up to become members of Congress who moan “I haven’t even read the bill” way too often to make me comfortable about the future of our republic – and if we can keep it.

Here’s my previous blog post to it, with more links.

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