• Crime Fiction,  Film,  Privilege,  Trials, Judges and Jurors

    White-Collar Motive, Gun Crazy Movie

    In 1950, producers Frank and Maurice King released Gun Crazy, a sometimes surreal Bonnie-and-Clyde story with an introverted, pacifist gun lover (Barton Tare, played by John Dall) and an English femme fatale sharpshooter  (Annie Laurie Starr, played by Peggy Cummins).  Carried forward by his lust for and fascination with Annie, the non-violent Bart — without thinking or planning — becomes a robber and, eventually, an accessory to murder. A classic American film noir, Gun Crazy has merited a book (Eddie Mueller’s Gun Crazy: The Origin of American Outlaw Cinema) and much commentary by film buffs.  It also gives us insight into a common question in white-collar cases: “Why did he [or she, but usually…

  • Privilege,  Wiretapping

    When Your Lawyer Dimes You In A Wireless World: Undercover Techniques and White-Collar Investigations

    It has become commonplace to note the ascendancy in white-collar investigations of techniques previously reserved for investigations of organized crime and violent, life-and-death offenses. Three recent articles bring the issue around again. The New York Times notes that More Federal Agencies Are Using Undercover Operations: The federal government has significantly expanded undercover operations in recent years, with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing, records and interviews show. . . . Undercover work, inherently invasive and sometimes dangerous, was once largely the domain of the F.B.I. and a few other law enforcement agencies at the federal level.…

  • Internal Investigations,  Privilege

    Get Out of Jail Free? Not Without The Attorney-Client Privilege

    We have talked about attorney-client privilege, internal investigations and the GM ignition recall: Privilege, Corporate Silence and Saul Goodman,  How To Avoid Being GM’ed: The Wrongs and Rights of Clients and Lawyers and It’s Okay To Smell A Rat: Internal Investigations, Attorney-Client Privilege and the KBR Decision. There was even a quote in Forbes.com: Of Snitches and Privileges. And if you can’t get enough, now a short (16 minute) presentation to the Network of Trial Law Firms meeting in October: How To Avoid Being GM’d from LFW on Vimeo.    

  • Lawyers,  Privilege

    Of Snitches and Privileges

    White-collar writer Walt Pavlo of @Forbes and 500 Pearl Street quotes us this morning in his insightful @Forbes article about the attorney-client privilege.  In particular: Federal prosecutors want to know who knew what, and when [about the GM ignition-switch problem].  However, GM’s lawyers and former lawyers are bound, like all lawyers, to uphold the attorney-client privilege.  A privilege clients enjoy with their lawyer to openly discuss matters with the assurance that their comments will not be disclosed to others.  While the media, Congress and the general public may want an individual(s) held accountable, that information should not come from GM’s lawyers who have been intrusted with confidential information. Every defense attorney…

  • Lawyers,  Privilege

    Privilege, Corporate Silence and Saul Goodman

    We are past Labor Day, and just as well.  Marked by the GM internal-investigation report’s criticism of some of the company’s internal lawyers, the summer was not kind to internal lawyers generally and to the attorney-client privilege particularly.  Consider, for example, the FCPA Blog‘s note on how life is tough for internal counsel. Even more notably, there is apparently a federal criminal investigation of GM that includes the conduct of the lawyers: Prosecutors could try to charge current and former GM lawyers and others with mail and wire fraud, the same charges Toyota faced, said a former official who worked on the Toyota case. But, they would need to have…

  • Internal Investigations,  Privilege

    It’s Okay To Smell A Rat: Internal Investigations, Attorney-Client Privilege and the KBR Decision

    Post-recession, we are living through an era of regulators’ grimaces and prosecutors’ giddiness. Editorialists and bloggers want business scalps, especially scalps of individuals (as opposed to simple monetary fines for corporations), and most especially scalps of those in banking and finance.  In the wake of the GM report and other stories about lawyers, the role of business lawyers is as suspect in the public mind as it has been for decades.  It’s as though everybody smells a rat. On the other hand, faced with ever-increasing and increasingly complex regulation, companies’ need to conduct self-reviews and internal investigations is unavoidable. Indeed, in many industries, the governing set of rules require companies to…

  • Privilege

    Board Room, Bored Room and the Existential Horror of Styrofoam Coffee Cups: 13 Ways to Avoid Waiving Privilege in Corporate Meetings

    This discussion by Mark Herrmann at Above The Law — Law Firm Meetings Vs. Corporate Meetings, Meetings, Meeting, And Meetings! — is a wonderful set-piece about meetings.  Read the whole article, but here he compares law-firm meetings  corporate meetings: Corporations are different. They’re publicly traded. They’re often much larger than law firms. They’re divided into operational divisions with pyramidal structures, with many people reporting to fewer people who report to fewer people still who report to someone near the top. Put that all together, and it means meetings. And meetings. And meetings. And meetings. In fact, to my eye, there are four types of corporate meetings . . . . First, there…