Originally published at The Federalist Society | February 15, 2017
Farha v. United States, currently pending on a petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, is a case study raising basic notions of due process, fair notice, the rule of lenity, mens rea, and whether administrative and civil remedies would be more appropriate. What began as a highly publicized raid by some 200 FBI agents on a Florida health care company over an accounting dispute ended in the indictment, conviction, and prison sentences for the Wellcare executives for fraud.
On appeal, where the case was captioned Clay v. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the convictions over the objections of the defendants that the jury instruction impermissibly allowed the jury to convict if the defendants were “deliberately indifferent” to the law’s requirement as opposed to finding a “knowing” violation as the statute requires. The Supreme Court in 2011, in Global-Tech Appliances, a civil case involving patent infringement, held that “knowledge” cannot include “deliberate indifference” to show sufficient mens rea to establish infringement. Accordingly, the cert petition, filed by Seth Waxman of WilmerHale, seeks to have the Court rule that the jury instructions should require a higher mens rea standard, all the more so in a criminal case.
This case is particularly important for all regulated industries, where there are numerous laws and complex regulations governing conduct subject to administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement.
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