From S.D.N.Y. Judge Kimba Wood’s Opinion and Order:
As with any exercise in statutory construction, the Court begins with the text of the statute and draws inferences about its meaning from its composition and structure. United States v. Gray, 642 F.3d 371, 377 (2d Cir. 2011). The federal statute prohibiting influencing a juror by writing provides that:
Whoever attempts to influence the action or decision of any grand or petit juror of any court of the United States upon any issue or matter pending before such juror, or before the jury of which he is a member, or pertaining to his duties, by writing or sending to him any written communication, in relation to such issue or matter, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the communication of a request to appear before the grand jury.
18 U.S.C. § 1504.
. . .
Based upon the plain meaning of the text of 18 U.S.C. § 1504, reinforced by relevant judicial interpretations and the doctrine of constitutional avoidance, the Court holds that a person violates the statute only when he knowingly attempts to influence the action or decision of a juror upon an issue or matter pending before that juror or pertaining to that juror’s duties by means of written communication made in relation to a specific case pending before that juror or in relation to a point in dispute between the parties before that juror.
. . .
Because the Indictment does not allege that Heicklen attempted to influence a juror through a written communication made in relation to a specific case before a juror or in relation to a point in dispute before a juror, the Court finds that the Indictment fails to state all of the elements of the offense described in 18 U.S.C. § 1504 and must be dismissed as legally insufficient.