• Presumption of Innocence,  Social Media,  Trials, Judges and Jurors

    “Fantastic Lies” and Corporate Criminal Prosecution

    When the past is dug up in documentaries (or docudramas), events are often sensationalized.  This practice is of long pedigree: Shakespeare was not above amping up an old story when it suited his needs.  Unfortunately, few filmmakers are at Shakespeare’s level, and the sensationalism ends up being no more than that.  The viewer has no better sense of the past than he did when he began.  The only sense the viewer has is the sense that she has been had. On the other hand, from time to time a documentary digs up the past but cools down the facts, making them approachable in a way that would have been impossible…

  • Fifth Amendment,  Legal Education,  Obstruction of Justice,  Presumption of Innocence,  Witnesses

    The Five Best Ways for Your Client’s Employees to Get Indicted

    The nice folks at the Birmingham Bar Association (and white-collar criminal defense lawyer Steve Shaw in particular) invited me to deliver a lunchtime CLE on a white-collar subject of my choice.  The topic ended up being “The Five Best Ways for Your Client’s Employees to Get Indicted.” One could come up with more ways your client’s employees could get indicted, but life is short. Here is the handout: The Five Best Ways for Your Client’s Employees to Get Indicted. Download it.  It’s not legal advice, but it has some fairly useful material about bribery, obstruction and honest-services fraud in the Eleventh Circuit, as well as quotes from Men In Black (1997).  We spent…

  • Due Process,  Presumption of Innocence,  Sentencing

    White-Collar Felon Registries, Hester Prynne and The Drive-By Truckers

    Although one must admire the historicist sensibilities of a state legislature that just reinstated the firing squad  as a methodology for execution, the Utah legislature’s passage of a bill to create a white-collar crime registry modeled on sex offender registries is unwise where it is not silly. As a New York Times article notes: With just a point and a click, you can browse a face book of felons, a new government website that will warn of the danger these criminals pose to society. Only these are not the faces of sex offenders and serial killers. These criminals are mortgage schemers and inside traders, most likely armed with nothing more than…

  • Cooperation Agreements,  Presumption of Innocence,  Sentencing

    Why Innocent People Plead Guilty: Judge Rakoff, Eddie Coyle, Albert Camus and Sweet Dreams of Oppression

    If they give awards for “Best White-Collar Article of The Year,” I wish to nominate one.  And it’s not even, strictly speaking, an article only about white-collar crime. Jed Rakoff is a federal district judge in the Southern District of New York (in other words, in Manhattan).  We have mentioned Judge Rakoff before, here and here.  He also famously criticized DOJ’s failure, as he perceived it, to prosecute individual executives in the financial crisis. Here, he has a thoughtful article on Why Innocent People Plead Guilty. Portions bear quoting at some length: The criminal justice system in the United States today bears little relationship to what the Founding Fathers contemplated, what the…

  • Due Process,  Grand Jury,  Presumption of Innocence

    A Meditation On Independence Day

    We all like the Fourth of July; most of us want it to mean something beyond cookouts and fireworks.  When my children were little, I would read aloud to them the entire Declaration of Independence, an oration they found both alarming and distracting. The nation’s Independence Day celebration has changed over time, as has its people (alarmed or distracted) and their culture. We have an Independence Day in film and in song, works of art that speak to a patriotism grounded in a corporate concept (national independence) and in a citizen concept (individual independence). Here in the early portion of the 21st-century, it is the domestic liberty of individuals, rather…