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Crime in the Suites An Analysis of Current Issues in White Collar Defense

A Blog About Current Issues in White Collar Defense

On June 17, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an 8-1 ruling in Dillon v. United States (with only Justice Stevens dissenting) that the Court’s 2005 ruling in United States v. Booker that made the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines advisory rather than mandatory does not apply to proceedings to reduce a sentence under section 3582(c)(2) of the U.S. Code. Percy Dillon, who had been convicted of crack and powder cocaine offenses, received the benefit of an amendment to the crack cocaine guidelines that the Sentencing Commission ruled should be applied retroactively to reduce the sentences of those who had already been convicted of crack offenses. In his pro se motion, Dillon asked not only for the two-level reduction specifically authorized by the Commission but also for a further reduction that he said was authorized under Booker, which made the guidelines advisory. Both the District Court and the Third Circuit rejected Dillon’s argument, and the Supreme Court agreed with them. It held that sentence-reduction proceedings like Dillon’s, which in the statutory language involve... Read more

Civil forfeiture is a legal fiction premised on two notions: that (i) property bears guilt when put to unlawful use; and (ii) monarchs are the creator’s appointed representatives on the earth. In such a world, it would make sense for guilty property to be seized and returned to the monarch. In the monarch’s hands, stained… Read More

Former Agriprocessors, Inc. executive Sholom Rubashkin was acquitted in Iowa state court on Monday, June 7, 2010, on all 67 counts of child labor violations relating to 26 teenagers from Latin America who worked at Rubashkin’s kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. The jury reached its verdict during the second day of deliberations. During the… Read More

Time will tell whether Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent policy memo to federal prosecutors will actually reduce white-collar sentencing disparities that Justice Department officials have admitted are widespread and significant. “We are especially concerned about increased disparity in white-collar sentencing,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Criminal Division told American Bar Association conference attendees… Read More

In a rare occurrence, a so-called deferred prosecution agreement entered into by the U.S. Department of Justice with a target of a criminal investigation has been subject to scrutiny by a federal judge, and the result wasn’t favorable to the government. In fact, a judicial ruling in the case of a fired Miami bank executive… Read More

Is the government reading your e-mail messages? A routine law enforcement technique of using subpoenas instead of search warrants to obtain e-mail from internet service providers (ISPs) means that literally anyone who uses the Internet risks intrusion from unlawful government surveillance practices. Subpoenas can be issued under a much lower standard than the probable cause… Read More

An unusual coalition of the conservative Heritage Foundation and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) recently issued a study entitled “Without Intent: How Congress Is Eroding the Criminal Intent Requirement in Federal Law.” See this blog’s discussion at Crime in the Suites: Has Congress Eroded the Intent Requirement in Criminal Law?  and the… Read More

New data just out from the U.S. Sentencing Commission seems to show a small but steady trend in federal criminal sentences away from the automatic imposition of the sentence recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. The Commission provides preliminary data on a quarterly basis. In the second quarter of fiscal year 2010 (which ended March… Read More

On May 4, 2010, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said the following in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on financial crime: Despite the enormous losses in many securities fraud cases, a preliminary analysis by the United States Sentencing Commission suggests that securities fraud offenders may often receive shorter sentences than other white collar offenders who cause… Read More

On April 30, 2010, David Kernell, son of a Democratic Tennessee lawmaker, was found guilty by a federal jury of obstruction of justice and unauthorized access to a computer for hacking into then-Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s Yahoo! e-mail account. Kernell was acquitted on a charge of wire fraud, and the jury deadlocked on a… Read More

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