April 24, 2018

The New York Times published a column highlighting the US Supreme Court’s trend in narrowing laws used in obstruction of justice prosecutions, citing a high-profile case the firm won on behalf of a client.

In Marinello v. United States, the firm represented Carlo Marinello, who challenged a Second Circuit decision upholding his felony conviction for obstructing an IRS investigation. The government read the statute to criminalize any act that ultimately hinders the administration of the tax code. Partner Matthew S. Hellman argued that obstruction should apply only when the defendant specifically intends to obstruct a known government proceeding, like an audit or investigation.

Columnist Peter Henning wrote that under the government’s approach, “just about anything that might cause the IRS a problem could conceivably be a violation.”

In siding 7-2 with Mr. Marinello in March 2018, the high court “took a dim view of the government’s argument for a broad reading for the law: that prosecutors would use good judgment and not overreach when bringing obstruction charges,” according to Mr. Henning.

In addition to Mr. Hellman, Partner Geoffrey M. Davis provided tax controversy counsel and Partner David Bitkower provided criminal law counsel. The team also included Associates Corinne M. Smith and Michael E. Stewart and SEO Fellow Imara McMilan. Former associate Emma Simson assisted with the petition. The Jenner & Block Supreme Court and Appellate clinic at the University of Chicago Law School assisted in the case.