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Kannon Shanmugam Recognized by The American Lawyer for Appellate Reversal of Criminal Conviction

Litigation partner Kannon Shanmugam, alongside co-counsel, was recognized by The American Lawyer on January 5 for winning the Ninth Circuit reversal of former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s criminal conviction for making false statements to government agents.

Following a March 2022 jury trial in the Central District of California, Fortenberry was convicted for making false statements to the FBI regarding campaign contributions from a foreign national and concealing information about those donations.

Kannon was retained to represent Fortenberry in his appeal before the Ninth Circuit. At oral argument in July 2023, prosecutors argued that California was the proper venue because the investigation had been led by the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.

We argued that California was an improper venue for the government’s prosecution and that the trial should have taken place in either Nebraska or the District of Columbia, where Fortenberry was interviewed by FBI agents and the statements in question were made. We also refuted the government’s claim that a venue is proper for trying false statements offenses if those statements have a “potential effect” on a federal investigation in that venue, arguing that potential impact on an investigation is not an essential conduct element of a false statements offense and therefore cannot be used to determine venue.

The appellate court unanimously agreed with our arguments, rejecting the government’s proposed “effects-based test” on the basis that it “has no support in the Constitution, the text of the statute, or historical practice.”

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