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Supreme Court Denies Sorich's Appeal

By Kevin Robinson in News on Feb 24, 2009 4:20PM

2009_2_Supreme_Court.jpg The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Robert Sorich's appeal of his 2006 conviction on fraud charges. Sorich, Mayor Daley's former patronage chief, was found guilty of rigging city hiring to give jobs to politically connected workers. Along with former Department of Streets and Sanitation official Patrick Slattery, and former Sorich aide Timothy McCarthy, Sorich's attorneys argued that since the men never took bribes or kickbacks, they couldn't be convicted of violating the "Honest Services" statute, which prohibits public employees from breaking the law for gain, even if it isn't personal gain.

Although the court seemingly gave support to the honest services statute, Justice Antonin Scala left the door open for further interpretation in his dissent. “It is one thing to enact and enforce clear rules against certain types of corrupt behavior ... but quite another to mandate a freestanding, open-ended duty to provide honest services — with the details to be worked out case-by-case,” Scalia wrote, suggesting that as the law, as it currently stands, “would seemingly cover a salaried employee’s phoning in sick to go to a ball game.”

“We’re tremendously disappointed particularly in light of Judge Scalia’s dissent that so forcefully adopts everything we’ve been arguing in this case from the beginning,” said Tom Durkin, Sorich's lawyer. “I think it’s grossly unfair for Sorich to serve a ridiculous amount of time for violating a statute that even judges cannot understand.” The men are all serving sentences in federal prison.

Photo by Olivia Leigh