• 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…

  • 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…

  • Cooperation Agreements,  Insider Trading,  Sentencing

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

    “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 into play when a colleague, an employee or a corporate officer or director is faced with the question: “Do I [or we] cooperate with [the Government, the…

  • Drugs,  Sentencing

    Conservatives and Mandatory Minimum Federal Sentences

    From Professor Berman’s “Sentencing Law and Policy Blog,” why conservatives should support the effort to reform mandatory minimums in non-violent federal sentences: the Heritage Foundation and mandatory minimum sentences: A conservative friend alerted me to this notable entry from the blog of The Heritage Foundation authored by Evan Bernick and headlined “Time to Reconsider Mandatory Minimum Sentences.”   Here are excerpts:  The Smarter Sentencing Act is narrowly tailored to address one of the most pressing problems with mandatory minimums — arbitrary, severe punishments for nonviolent offenses— while leaving for another day the question of whether mandatory minimums should apply to violent crimes…. Mandatory minimums were intended to address widely acknowledged…

  • Costs, Budgets and Fees,  Trials, Judges and Jurors

    Take The Deal or Go To Trial? Exactly.

    The awful pressure to plead guilty, brought on by the significantly enhanced sentences that the Government often seeks where a defendant asserts his right to a trial, is highlighted in the media in drug cases, as here: Prosecutors Draw Fire for Sentences Called Harsh. For white-collar defendants — businesspeople who may be otherwise wholly unacquainted with the criminal justice system — the combination of mandatory minimums, ardent prosecutors and a public consciousness that prefers to blame for their woes abstractions (“Wall Street” or “the accountants” or “bankers”) rather than individual choices means that going to trial is almost impossible.  Plus, the costs can be prohibitive. Indeed, when a federal judge…

  • Crime Fiction,  Sentencing

    Why’d He Do It?

    Here’s a note from Professor Ellen Podgor about an article on Sentencing the Why of White Collar Crime by Todd Haugh (Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago-Kent College of Law)  in the Fordham Law Review.  From the abstract: “So why did Mr. Gupta do it?” That question was at the heart of Judge Jed Rakoff’s recent sentencing of Rajat Gupta, a former Wall Street titan and the most high-profile insider trading defendant of the past 30 years. The answer, which the court actively sought by inquiring into Gupta’s psychological motivations, resulted in a two-year sentence, eight years less than the government requested. What was it that Judge Rakoff found in…

  • Sentencing

    Alabama’s New Sentencing Guidelines

    A good summary from Sentencing Law and Policy Blog about Alabama’s new sentencing guidelines: I find it so very telling that when states create sentencing guidelines which generally push judges away from long prison terms (unlike the federal guidelines which general push judges toward long prison terms) we hear state prosecutors complaining that use of guidelines at sentencing does not capture all the unique facets of offenses and offenders. This provide for me still more proof that the severity of applicable rules is what really shapes the litigants perspectives as to whether sentencing guidelines should be presumptive or merely advisory. For lots of reasons, and perhaps especially because Alabama’s sentencing…

  • Securities Fraud,  Sentencing

    From our friends at the White Collar Crime Prof Blog

    Quick collection of white-collar news from the   White Collar Crime Prof Blog: Mark Hamblett & Sara Randazzo, The AmLaw Daily, Ex-Kirkland Partner Sentenced to One Year For Tax  Fraud George J. Terwilliger III, National Law Journal, Walking a Tightrope in White-Collar Investigations AP, Las Vegas Sun, Ex-Akamai exec barred for 5 years in SEC case; Bob Van Voris, Bloomberg, Ex-Akamai Executive Settles SEC Suit Over Rajaratnam Tips Nate Raymond, Reuters, Baltimore Sun, U.S. prosecutor cautions against white-collar sentencing revamp Jennifer Koons, Main Justice, Former Enron Prosecutor Tapped to Head Criminal Division Zachery Fagenson, Reuters, Ex-Bolivian anti-corruption official denied bail in Miami extortion case

  • Parallel Proceedings,  Sentencing

    White-collar news stories via White Collar Crime Prof Blog

    Good roundup of white-collar news stories from Ellen Podgor and White Collar Crime Prof Blog: Mark Hamblett & Sara Randazzo, The AmLaw Daily, Ex-Kirkland Partner Sentenced to One Year For Tax  Fraud George J. Terwilliger III, National Law Journal, Walking a Tightrope in White-Collar Investigations AP, Las Vegas Sun, Ex-Akamai exec barred for 5 years in SEC case; Bob Van Voris, Bloomberg, Ex-Akamai Executive Settles SEC Suit Over Rajaratnam Tips Nate Raymond, Reuters, Baltimore Sun, U.S. prosecutor cautions against white-collar sentencing revamp Jennifer Koons, Main Justice, Former Enron Prosecutor Tapped to Head Criminal Division Zachery Fagenson, Reuters, Ex-Bolivian anti-corruption official denied bail in Miami extortion case