The United States v. Sutton decision poses many questions. In a case where the presence of organized crime is evident, why did the majority so severely limit the anti-racketeering statute's application so that its target, organized crime, was beyond its purview? Also, why did the majority allow the confession of illegality to serve as a defense to liability under a criminal statute? Lastly, why did the majority hold contrary to five other circuits and require a showing of legitimacy where the statutory definition of "enterprise" does not specifically require it? This note will attempt to answer these questions. It will examine RICO's intended use as stated by Congress and its expanded use as applied by federal prosecutors. It will finally conclude that the single most debilitating aspect of the statute is its inherent potential for abuse, an aspect of RICO implicitly controlling the Sutton majority.
Note, United States v. Sutton: The Sixth Circuit Curbs Abuse of RICO, the Federal Racketeering Enterprise Statute, 28 Clev. St. L. Rev. 629 (1979)