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Ninth Circuit Interprets the Federal Witness Tampering Statute (18 U.S.C. § 1512) to Require a Higher Scienter Element for the Term “Corruptly Persuades”

It just became harder for the U.S. Department of Justice to prove a case of witness tampering.  Now federal defendants may not be convicted of witness tampering under 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(1) unless the government can prove that the defendant does more than appeal to a person’s right to exercise a privilege not to testify.  Rather, the government must prove some other wrongful conduct, such as coercion, intimidation, bribery, suborning perjury, etc.  The new interpretation of the term “corruptly” will likely significantly aid defendants in other criminal prosecutions, such as tax...
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