• Cocktails

    The Gibson: Thanks, Given

    If one writes poetry in bound verse, the poet must follow the rules or the form loses its character.  “Blank verse” is written in un-rhymed iambic pentameter.  It can be written in another form, or no form at all, but it will no longer be blank verse.  The thing is its form. Similarly, the martini is (or should be) akin to the bound verse of cocktails.  The true list of potential alcohols — gin, vermouth — is austere.  There are two popular garnishes — the twist and the olive — and one nearly forgotten: the cocktail onion.  The combination of gin, vermouth and a cocktail onion (or two or three)…

  • Grand Jury,  Search Warrants

    Search Warrants, Subpoenas, and Danish Existentialism

    The “what-to-do-when-the-FBI-shows up” spiel is, admittedly, a well-worn trope on the white-collar panel-discussion circuit, a talk accompanied by coffee in styrofoam cups (in the morning) or dry chicken-breasts on buffet steam-tables (in the evening).  Unless the audience is virginal in its dalliance with law enforcement, the shock effect of talking about search warrants is lost, and the delivery becomes boring, leading us to that nineteenth-century Danish existentialist, Soren Kierkegaard. Yet, the subject is a serious one for corporations and for individual businesspersons.  As we have noted before, law-enforcement techniques — including search warrants — that were once limited to organized crime, drug dealers or motorcycle gangs are now used with…

  • Congressional Investigations,  Impeachment

    Takeaways For Subpoena Season: Mid-Terms, Congress and the White House

    The Democrats having taken the House, there is no shortage of predictions of an oversight-apocalypse heading for the White House.  See here and here and here.  And, Jeff Sessions is no doubt relieved to be gone as Attorney General. Some of the doomsday observations are a bit fevered, but there is no doubt that congressional oversight received a shot in the arm from the election results.  And, there is no doubt that hard-charging, partisan investigations, as such inquiries especially tend to be in the House, are hard on executive branch lawyers, staff and witnesses as Politico notes: ‘It’s depressing as hell’: Dem win would spell misery for Trump White House aides…

  • Compliance,  Ethics,  Internal Investigations

    Summer of Love to Altamont Murder: Innocence, Guilt and Corporate Compliance In A Kavanaugh Era

    The recent furor over the nomination and confirmation of Judge (now Justice) Brett Kavanaugh puts us in mind of a messy truth for companies and businesspeople who must deal with investigations and charges of all stripes, whether as the investigator (in conducting a corporate internal investigation, for example) or as the subject of the charges (a grand jury investigation, or a regulatory enforcement action, or at trial).  In order to create workable compliance programs; to advance a corporate culture the way we wish to; or to defend a company or its executives or employees, we need to come to terms with with a truth not so much “un-American” as “a-American,”…

  • Cooperation Agreements,  Special Counsel

    The Winter Olympics of Cooperation: The Bridge On The River Kwai, White-Collar Self-Image and Federal Sentencing

    With all of the discussion  about Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his “cooperators,” now is an appropriate time to revisit the basics of “cooperation” in white-collar investigations. “Cooperation” is a complex concept for individuals and businesses caught up in white-collar criminal cases, compliance reviews and breakdowns of business ethics.  As with the more obscure or corrupt Winter Olympic events, there are ways to demystify the complexity, but it is not easy. In David Lean’s 1957 film The Bridge On The River Kwai, we see cross-currents of duty, vainglory, cooperation, resistance, collaboration and death.  (We also hear some great whistling, but that is another matter).  All of these ideas and emotions come…

  • Cooperation Agreements,  Special Counsel

    Cooperation, and Something to Cooperate With

    From The Hill: With Mueller’s probe advancing behind closed doors, it is impossible for onlookers to judge the value or extent of any one witness’s cooperation. At the same time, observers say the deals Mueller has struck signal he believes their cooperation to have significant value. “If they have struck a deal where they’re going to cooperate, then that’s a pretty good indication that special counsel’s office believes they have something worth cooperating over,” said Jack Sharman, a former special counsel to Congress for the Whitewater investigation. Read the full story by Morgan Chalfant here.

  • Books,  Literature

    13 Books Every White-Collar Lawyer Should Read

    Of the making of lists of books, there shall be no end. Nevertheless, herewith is one more. Set out below are 13 works that every white-collar lawyer – defense counsel, prosecutor or judge – should read. Why take on such a presumptuous project? Three good reasons. First, lists start conversations. Although law is (or was) a “learned profession,” relatively few lawyers in my experience have read broadly or deeply since college.  The press of work does not allow otherwise.  Our professional learning is utilitarian, narrow, cramped and quickly (or gratefully) forgotten. Second, the proponent of such a list (that is, me) must review, reconsider or even reread works first encountered…

  • Ethics,  Social Media

    Disclaimer Parade

    Autumn is in the air, which means it is time for the occasional disclaimer so prized by various state bars and their staffs. I write on this blog because I enjoy it, but one with a Soviet mind might think it is lawyer advertising. If you fall in that category, read this: DISCLAIMER:  “No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”  Nothing in this blog is legal advice.  You’re not paying me for any, nor am I giving you any.  Any questions about this blog may be addressed to Jackson R. Sharman…

  • Books,  Cocktails,  Crime Fiction,  jazz

    Southern Comfort, Niall Ferguson and Peter Gunn

    Cocktails, books, jazz, and crime. COCKTAILS Crude and low-fi, one’s early-life alcohol memories resonate, but they do so uneasily in our era of craft beers and hyper-precious cocktails. I spent the first semester of my junior year in high school at a lycee in Clermont-Ferrand, France, a city in Auvergne known primarily as the global headquarters of Michelin.  A classmate and I broke into his father’s liquor cabinet and downed half a bottle of a dreadful eau-de-vie.  I barely made it back to the home of my host family, doubtless thinking I was some combination of Albert Camus and Jacques Brel. But one flavor from those early years, once I…

  • Fifth Amendment,  Grand Jury

    Dante’s Guide: Preparing the Grand Jury Witness

    In the year 1300, at age 35, the narrator of Dante’s Inferno famously finds himself in trouble: Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray             from the straight road and woke to find myself                         alone in a dark wood.  How shall I say   what wood that was!  I never saw so drear,             so rank, so arduous a wilderness!             Its very memory gives a shape to fear.   The grand jury witness finds himself or herself in a position not unlike that of the Italian poet at the beginning of his trek through the Divine Comedy.  The federal grand jury is one of the most…