Specific Intent under Bank-Fraud Statute
Shaw v. United States15-5991
Following Loughrin v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 2384 (2014), the circuits remain openly and increasingly divided -now nine-to-three with the Ninth Circuit’s minority-view decision below -over the mens rea required under subsection (1) of the bank-fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. §1344. The question presented is that which was left open in Loughrin:
Whether subsection (1)’s “scheme to defraud a financial institution” requires proof of a specific intent not only to deceive, but also to cheat, a bank, as nine circuits have held, and as petitioner Lawrence Shaw argued here.
DECISIONDecided December 12, 2016 HOLDING
Subsection (1) of the bank fraud statute covers schemes to deprive a bank of money in a customer’s deposit account. Shaw’s arguments in favor of his claim that subsection (1) does not apply to him because he intended to cheat only a bank depositor, not a bank, are unpersuasive. With regard to the parties’ dispute over whether the District Court improperly instructed the jury that a scheme to defraud a bank must be one to deceive the bank or deprive it of something of value, instead of one to deceive and deprive, the Ninth Circuit is left to determine whether that question was properly presented and if so, whether the instruction given is lawful, and, if not, whether any error was harmless in this case.
BREYER, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
ORAL ARGUMENTArgued October 4, 2016
CERTIORARI STAGEGranted April 26, 2016
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Decided March 27, 2015