Obstruction of justice: Unwarranted expansion of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(C)(1)

Sarah O'Rourke Schrup

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

    2 Scopus citations


    This Article suggests that prosecutors are misusing and courts are misinterpreting the Sarbanes-Oxley obstruction of justice statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(1). As a result, the statute is being applied far beyond the corporate fraud or even general fraud context to conduct that Congress never intended to punish with this statute. Such an expansive interpretation lays bare the ambiguity inherent in the statutory language. A proper statutory construction that explores the statute itself, related provisions, canons of construction, the legislative history, and the investigatory process at the Securities and Exchange Commission shows that Congress could not have intended the limitless sweep of the statute that some courts and prosecutors have fashioned. In fact, an expansive definition of the terms within § 1512(c)(1) carries with it a host of unintended and unwanted results. Specifically, such an interpretation is at odds with congressional intent, creates absurdities and unfair sentencing disparities, renders the statute void for vagueness, and encourages judicial and executive legislating. Courts should recognize and limit efforts to expand § 1512(c)(1)'s reach.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)25-66
    Number of pages42
    JournalJournal of Criminal Law and Criminology
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - May 31 2012

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Law

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