The citizens and governments of states and localities have a federal statutory right to the "honest services" of their public officials. The federal statutes that criminalize conduct impinging on this right, however, do not clearly define the parameters of the term "honest services," and, as a result, the U.S. Courts of Appeals have differed in their interpretation of what conduct comprises a violation of the statute. The U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Third and Fifth Circuits have held that, in order for there to be a federal crime, the "honest services" must be owed under state or local law. Meanwhile, the First Circuit has held that such a state or local law violation is not a necessary prerequisite to the federal crime. This Note argues that, due to federalism and the nature of public corruption, the former approach strikes the appropriate balance between state sovereignty and the federal interest in good government.
Michael K. Avery, Whose Rights? Why States Should Set the Parameters for Federal Honest Services Mail and Wire Fraud Prosecutions, 49 B.C.L. Rev. 1431 (2008), http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol49/iss5/5