Scienter Definition

In criminal (and civil) cases, often an element of “scienter” is required to be shown by the actor.

Scienter is generally defined as “A mental state embracing intent to deceive, manipulate, or defraud” Aaron v. SEC, 446 U.S 680, 686 n.5, 100 S. Ct. 1945, 1950 n.5, 64 L. Ed. 2d 611 (1980).
The definition may vary depending on the jurisdiction though, for example, nn the Eleventh Circuit, “scienter” may also consist of “severe recklessness” by the defendant, see, e.g., Edward J. Goodman Life Income Trust v. Jabil Circuit, Inc., 594 F.3d 783, 790 (11th Cir. 2010);
That being said, the Supreme Court has left open the question whether recklessness may satisfy the scienter requirement. See Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. v. Siracusano, 131 S. Ct. 1309, 1323, 179 L. Ed. 2d 398 (2011) (“We have not decided whether recklessness suffices to fulfill the scienter requirement.”); Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 319 n.3, 127 S. Ct. 2499, 2507 n.3, 168 L. Ed. 2d 179 (2007) (declining to decide issue because “whether and when recklessness satisfies the scienter requirement is not presented in this case”).

Another definition or maybe better described as a means to demonstrate scienter is “knowingly and intentionally performing an act or conduct, despite the concurrent knowledge that the act is wrongful.”

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