Judicial Opinions

This section contains a searchable index of key judicial opinions about the conflict of interest statutes from the Federal courts.

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November 7, 2014

U.S. v. Pratt, No. ELH-12-401, 2013 WL 310565 (D. Md. Jan. 24, 2013)

The defendant was charged with receipt of illegal supplementation of salary from a non-governmental source in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 209(a). Denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the District Court of Maryland rejected the defendant’s argument that services, such as spa and salon services, could never constitute supplementation of salary. In its opinion, the court discusses the legislative history of 18 U.S.C. § 209(a) and case law interpreting the statute. For more information about the case, see the 2013 Conflict of Interest Prosecution Survey.

May 13, 2011

U.S. v. Safavian, 649 F.3d 688 (D.C. Cir. 2011)

Chief of Staff for the General Services Administration (GSA), David Safavian went on a golf trip to Scotland with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He sought ethical advice from GSA’s General Counsel, but represented that Abramoff had “no business before GSA.” Safavian did not disclose that Abramoff had previously asked him about leasing two GSA-owned properties. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld four counts related to falsifying or concealing a material fact and obstruction of justice. (PDF)

March 4, 2011

U.S. v. Stadd, 636 F.3d 630 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (PDF)

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that an interim Associate Administrator of NASA violated 18 U.S.C. §208 where he persuaded a NASA official to allocate funds to a client of a consulting firm in which he maintained sole proprietorship and he knew he held a financial interest in the matter.

August 3, 2010

U.S. v. Project on Gov't Oversight, 616 F.3d 544 (D.C. Cir. 2010)

The D.C. Court of Appeals held that 18 U.S.C. § 209(a) required that (1) the payor intend its payment to compensate for the employee's government work, and (2) the work at issue had to actually be the employee’s government work.

February 9, 2009

U.S. v. Selby, 557 F.3d 968 (9th Cir. 2009) (PDF)

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a government employee who actively participates in procuring sales that result in increased commissions for her husband violated 18 U.S.C. §208, especially where the employee knew of the likely financial outcome and acted willfully.

May 3, 2006

Wolfe v. Barnhart, 446 F.3d 1096 (10th Cir. 2006)

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld 5 C.F.R. § 2635.807(a) against a First Amendment challenge and upheld OGE's interpretation that the rule prohibited an administrative law judge (ALJ) from receiving royalties for a book he co-authored about the SSA disability adjudication process, despite the ALJ having acquired some expertise on the subject prior to working for the SSA. (PDF)


August 8, 2000

O'Neill v. HUD, 220 F.3d 1354 (Fed. Cir. 2000)

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals interpreted 18 U.S.C. § 205 as barring an employee from acting as agent or attorney before any government agency in any particular matter in which the U. S. is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. The Court determined that an employee does not act as "agent" for another person unless the employee has actual or apparent authority to act on behalf of that person in dealings with the government.

February 9, 2000

Van Ee v. EPA, 202 F.3d 296 (D.C. Cir. 2000)

The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals held that 18 U.S.C. 205(a)(2) does not prohibit uncompensated communications by a government employee, on behalf of a public interest group, to an agency at which he is not employed. Congress did not intend to bar federal employees from representing outside interests in every matter in which the U.S. has an interest.

January 28, 2000

EEOC v. Exxon Corp., 202 F.3d 755 (5th Cir. 2000)

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that 18 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1) applied insofar as the attorneys' services were those of expert witnesses, but the District Court did not err in issuing an order permitting the testimony under 18 U.S.C. § 207(j)(6). Ethical rules did not bar the testimony, which was limited to publicly-known information.

April 27, 1999

U.S. v. Sun-Diamond Growers, 526 U.S. 398 (1999)

The U.S. Supreme Court held that "in order to establish a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201(c)(1)(A), the government must prove a link between a thing of value conferred upon a public official and a specific 'official act' for or because of which it was given."