In U.S. v. Friske, No. 09-14915 (May 18, 2011), the Court reversed a conviction for attempting to obstruct an official proceeding by attempting to dispose of and hide assets involved in a forfeiture proceeding, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2). The Court found that the evidence was insufficient.
The evidence showed that Friske “was certainly acting suspiciously” in his attempts to recover sealed PVC pipes from under the pool deck of a person indicted for marihuana production. However, the offense required proof of a “nexus” between a person’s actions and the judicial proceedings he was attempting to obstruct. Here, no evidence showed that Friske was aware of, or could have foreseen, the forfeiture proceeding at issue. Speculation that Friske knew his actions would obstruct the forfeiture proceeding could not suffice to sustain his conviction.