Randy D. Gordon


The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) came into

the world in 1970, a time of great social upheaval that was accompanied by

shifting attitudes towards both crime and civil litigation. From the outset, the

statute’s complexity, ambiguity, and uncertain purpose have confounded courts

and commentators. At least some doubts as to the statute’s meaning and

application arise because it has criminal and civil components that subject it

to the twin—yet antithetical—social impulses to be “tough on crime” while

containing a perceived “litigation explosion.” In this Article, I situate RICO

in this larger context and offer that context as a partial explanation of how

RICO’s “meaning” has been shaped. Along the way, I synthesize many years

of my own legal scholarship and litigation experience into a retrospective of

where RICO interpretation and application have been—and where they still

must go.

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