United States v. O'Hagan, 521 U.S. 642, 9 (1997)

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Opinion of the Court

the Fourth Circuit's lead, see United States v. Bryan, 58 F. 3d 933, 943-959 (1995), the Eighth Circuit rejected the misappropriation theory as a basis for § 10(b) liability. We hold, in accord with several other Courts of Appeals,3 that criminal liability under § 10(b) may be predicated on the mis-appropriation theory.4


In pertinent part, § 10(b) of the Exchange Act provides:

"It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly, by the use of any means or instrumentality of interstate commerce or of the mails, or of any facility of any national securities exchange—

. . . . . "(b) To use or employ, in connection with the purchase or sale of any security registered on a national securities exchange or any security not so registered, any manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance in contravention of such rules and regulations as the [Securities and Exchange] Commission may prescribe as necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors." 15 U. S. C. § 78j(b).

3 See, e. g., United States v. Chestman, 947 F. 2d 551, 566 (CA2 1991) (en banc), cert. denied, 503 U. S. 1004 (1992); SEC v. Cherif, 933 F. 2d 403, 410 (CA7 1991), cert. denied, 502 U. S. 1071 (1992); SEC v. Clark, 915 F. 2d 439, 453 (CA9 1990).

4 Twice before we have been presented with the question whether criminal liability for violation of § 10(b) may be based on a misappropriation theory. In Chiarella v. United States, 445 U. S. 222, 235-237 (1980), the jury had received no misappropriation theory instructions, so we declined to address the question. See infra, at 661. In Carpenter v. United States, 484 U. S. 19, 24 (1987), the Court divided evenly on whether, under the circumstances of that case, convictions resting on the misappropriation theory should be affirmed. See Aldave, The Misappropriation Theory: Carpenter and Its Aftermath, 49 Ohio St. L. J. 373, 375 (1988) (observing that "Carpenter was, by any reckoning, an unusual case," for the information there misappropriated belonged not to a company preparing to engage in securities transactions, e. g., a bidder in a corporate acquisition, but to the Wall Street Journal).

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