Last week the Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois federal Judge David Coar dismissed a mail fraud count in a prosecution because the government had failed to prove the use of the mails. The truth of the matter is that the mailing aspect of mail fraud has become so inconsequential that prosecutors can actually forget the need to have a mailing or the need to prove it. Like venue, it has become a question you have to ask at least of one witness to make the case, but, once asked, it seldom provides controversy.

But the real question is: Why has federal criminal jurisdiction become so commonly accepted that we can sometimes overlook the need for this federal jurisdiction hook? Why is it that a mailing is all that is necessary to bring many state criminal matters into the federal system? Could it be that overfederalization has made us oblivious to the importance of the unique role that the federal government should play in the criminal law system? An examination of mail fraud provides some clues here.

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