Evans v. United States, 504 U.S. 255, 14 (1992)

Page:   Index   Previous  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  Next



Opinion of the Court

ress such as a demand," id., at 22, and it did not properly describe the quid pro quo requirement for conviction if the jury found that the payment was a campaign contribution.

We reject petitioner's criticism of the instruction, and conclude that it satisfies the quid pro quo requirement of Mc-Cormick v. United States, 500 U. S. 257 (1991), because the offense is completed at the time when the public official receives a payment in return for his agreement to perform specific official acts; fulfillment of the quid pro quo is not an element of the offense. We also reject petitioner's contention that an affirmative step is an element of the offense of extortion "under color of official right" and need be included in the instruction.19 As we explained above, our construction of the statute is informed by the common-law tradition from which the term of art was drawn and understood. We hold today that the Government need only show that a public official has obtained a payment to which he was not entitled, knowing that the payment was made in return for official acts.20

Our conclusion is buttressed by the fact that so many other courts that have considered the issue over the last 20 years have interpreted the statute in the same way.21 Moreover,

19 We do not reach petitioner's second claim pertaining to the tax fraud count because, as petitioner conceded at oral argument, we would only have to reach that claim in the event that petitioner succeeded on his Hobbs Act claim. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 3-4, 27.

20 The dissent states that we have "simply made up," post, at 286, the requirement that the payment must be given in return for official acts. On the contrary, that requirement is derived from the statutory language "under color of official right," which has a well-recognized common-law heritage that distinguished between payments for private services and payments for public services. See, e. g., Collier v. State, 55 Ala. 125 (1877), which the dissent describes as a "typical case." Post, at 281.

21 See, e. g., United States v. Swift, 732 F. 2d 878, 880 (CA11 1984), cert. denied, 469 U. S. 1158 (1985); United States v. Jannotti, 673 F. 2d, at 594- 596; United States v. French, 628 F. 2d, at 1074; United States v. Williams, 621 F. 2d, at 123-124; United States v. Butler, 618 F. 2d, at 417-418; United States v. Hall, 536 F. 2d, at 320-321; United States v. Hathaway, 534 F.

Page:   Index   Previous  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007