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Defendant Petitions for Cert on Relationship of Defraud Conspiracy and Marinello Interpretation of Tax Obstruction (2/22/21)

I have previously blogged on the plea and resulting conviction of Scott Flynn for the defraud / Klein conspiracy.  See Eighth Circuit Holds that Marinello Pending Proceeding Nexus in § 7212(a) Does Not Apply to Defraud / Klein Conspiracy (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 8/17/20), here; and Two Cases Involving Marinello (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 1/15/19), here.  Flynn has filed a petition for certiorari (pdf here pdf and TN text here) presenting the following issues (Pet. p. 1):

I. Whether the due process clause of the United States Constitution, as discussed in McCarthy v. United States, 394 U.S. 459 (1969) and more recent decisions of this Court, requires discussion in open court of the elements of an 18 U.S.C. § 371 conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (Klein Conspiracy) offense to advise the defendant of the nature of the charges against him before a guilty plea is accepted.

II. Whether the requirement for a nexus between a particular administrative proceeding and a taxpayer’s conduct is necessary to save the constitutionality of a conviction under an 18 U.S.C. § 371 conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (Klein Conspiracy) after this Court’s decision in Marinello v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 1101 (2018).

III. Whether a criminal defendant is entitled to a jury trial to determine the amount of restitution under either the Sixth or Seventh Amendments to the United States Constitution.

All of the issues are important, but only the Supreme Court will determine whether they are “cert-worthy.”  

I address one issue that I have written on before – whether Marinello’s interpretation of the tax obstruction, § 7212(a), offense can or should apply to the defraud / Klein conspiracy?  See e.g., What Are the Implications for Marinello on the Defraud / Klein Conspiracy? (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 3/24/18), here; see also Great Second Circuit Dissent on Potential Overreach in Tax Obstruction (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 2/28/17), here.  Flynn argues that the defraud / Klein conspiracy is unconstitutional and can be saved by importing the Marinello analysis into the defraud / Klein conspiracy.  See pp. 20, here – 30.  I need not go over the nuance of the argument since the petition presents the position well and I have previously addressed the issue in the various Federal Tax Crimes Blog links above.  Here (p. 4), though is the fairly cryptic summary of the argument:

The charging document for the 18 U.S.C. § 371 (Klein Conspiracy) charge used all but identical language to a tax obstruction charge, 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a), that was limited by this Court in Marinello v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 1101 (2018). The same nexus limitation should have been applied here or the statute should be declared unconstitutional.

JAT Comment (added 2/22/21 at 9:00pm:

1. Marinello was concerned principally with the overbreadth of the Government’s claims for tax obstruction under § 7212(a).  See particularly Marinello, 138 S.Ct. at 1107-1109, here, where the Court posits some horrors that a broad construction of § 7212(a) would sweep into its criminal net.  A similar broad construction of the parallel defraud / Klein conspiracy was precisely what troubled Judge Kozinski in the leading case of United States v. Caldwell, 989 F.2d 1056, 1058 (9th Cir. 1993), here, which inspired my article John A. Townsend, Tax Obstruction Crimes: Is Making the IRS’s Job Harder Enough, 9 Hous. Bus. & Tax. L.J. 255 (2009), here, and Tax Obstruction Crimes: Is Making the IRS’s Job Harder Enough? Online Appendix, 9 Hous. Bus. & Tax L.J. A-1 (2009), here.  The thrust of my article was that without some constraint on the defraud / Klein conspiracy, the evils the Court found present in the broad interpretation of tax obstruction would be present for the defraud / Klein conspiracy as well.  I thus would like to see the Court take the case to rein in the broad application of the defraud / Klein conspiracy.

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