Last week, I wrote about why so few people go to trial, and I talked about some of the challenges of going to trial in a criminal case in federal court, particularly in a white-collar case.
This week, I’d like to talk about another challenge with going to trial — statements made to law enforcement by the person who is accused of a crime.
After Zachary Warren was indicted in connection with the Dewey implosion, there was a lot of coverage of why, exactly, a smart, educated, fancy lawyer would talk to law enforcement without a lawyer present. (See, e.g., here, and here, and here).
As these prior pieces talk about, there’s a tactical problem with talking to law enforcement in the first place — the agent may say that he or she is just giving you a chance to “tell your side of the story” or “get the truth out” but, really, that person’s interest is in getting a conviction so they get a stat. They’re trying to build a case against you and that has less to do with celebrating the importance of impartial truth seeking, and much more to do with boxing you in so that a trial would be hopeless (see this on one way to think about the agent’s priorities when they’re taking a statement).
There is, though, another problem with talking to law enforcement — one that, hopefully, DOJ is actually making better.
We’ve been talking about officially-sanctioned Chinese hacking for years. Whether the narrative involved offensive attacks on U.S. systems or industrial espionage, the “China threat” was a reliable talking point when discussing cybersecurity. Was the extent of the threat a little overblown? Sure. Hey, the Pentagon needed to spook some legislators into opening the pocketbook. But the idea that the Chinese government was trying diligently to hack into American systems was accurate.
And now the U.S. is doing something about it. It may not be much, but the Department of Justice is filing charges against five Chinese officials in the People’s Liberation Army (known as Unit 61398) for industrial espionage….
Criminal defense lawyers who practice in federal court bemoan the lack of jury trials these days.
According to the administrative office of the U.S. courts, in the twelve months ended March 31, 2013, in our federal courts, 83,614 people entered a plea of guilty. Only 1,953 went to a jury trial (there were 173 bench trials too, for what it’s worth).
So, around 2 percent of the folks who are charged in federal court go to trial — the rest plead guilty.
The numbers in white-collar cases are a little better. For fraud cases there were 9,925 guilty pleas and 411 jury trials — so about 4 percent of people accused of fraud opt to see a jury. For regulatory offenses there were 1,480 pleas and 47 jury trials — about 3 percent.
There are a lot of reasons why so many people plead guilty and so few go to trial. One reason is that the acquittal rate is low — about 13 percent overall (there were 260 acquittals overall in FY 2013). For what it’s worth, while fraud acquittals were in line with that, regulatory offenses had an acquittal rate that was much higher — 20 acquittals (counting bench and jury trials) out of 55 trials. That’s about 35 percent.
Another big reason is that people accused of a crime are meaningfully prevented from testifying — and if a trial turns on what a person knew, as many white-collar cases do, their ability to put on a defense is compromised by their inability to testify. They can see a bad verdict coming….
* Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may retire by the end of summer 2015, or she may retire by the end of summer 2017, or she may retire whenever she damn well pleases. For the love of God, please stop with this. [Legal Intelligencer]
* The Fourth Circuit appears to be split on Virginia’s gay marriage ban. The Tenth Circuit appeared to be split on Utah’s gay marriage ban. We’ll give you three guesses on the eventual Supreme Court outcome. [New York Times]
* Law deans lose their jobs when their schools drop in rank, and it seems Biglaw chairmen lose their titles when their firms post the worst single-year drop in revenue ever. Sorry Bingham McCutchen. [Am Law Daily]
* Ex-D&Ler Zach Warren wants to sever his case from the likes of Joel Sanders and the Steves, using a “guilt by association” argument. The only thing he’s guilty of is being too cute. [National Law Journal]
* The drama continues at Albany Law, where faculty members now face possible pay cuts or being put on unpaid leave following a “smear campaign” waged against Dean Penelope Andrews. [Albany Times Union]
It’s been a couple of months, so maybe you thought that there were no more dumb criminals doing dumb things with technology any longer. Well, that was a very silly thought, silly-thought-thinker. You should know by now that nothing will stop the deluge of dumb. This latest is special, however, due to the impressive dedication to stupid by our criminal mastermind. This case is one in which an 18 year old man videotaped himself driving like an idiot on purpose, injured himself to the point of needing an airlift to a hospital, after which he uploaded the video to YouTube — accurately titling it “Me Driving Like an Idiot”
On today’s date in 1905, the trial of the Stratton brothers began in the London Criminal Court. The case marks the first time in recorded Western jurisprudence that fingerprint evidence was used to obtain a murder conviction. This week, On Remand looks back at courts’ dealings with fingerprint evidence and the story of a lawyer whose fingerprints led to his erroneous arrest as a terrorist.
In March 1905, Thomas and Ann Farrow were murdered in their south London art shop. The crime scene suggested the motive — a cash box had been pried open and left empty — but offered investigators few clues about the perpetrator. With only a bloodstained sink and two discarded masks at the scene, and no murder weapon, signs of forced entry, or witnesses to the crime, investigators appeared to have no leads. But one other clue found at the scene — a bloody fingerprint on the cash box’s inner tray — would eventually break the case….
You can’t be a judge very long without having a trial that presents concerning situations. We handle them by talking them through with the marshals…. This sounds like something that could have happened at any courthouse, at any time.
It’s a brutal attack on an attorney running for governor, blasting him for representing criminal defendants. How can he protect battered women when he helped their abusers beat the rap? How indeed. Oh, and it’s not just that he helped their abusers, he did so for money. Because counseling the accused for fees in this country is where all the money is. It’s a seedy racket no way at all as admirable as, I don’t know, lobbying elected officials for political favors at the expense of the citizenry. If only this guy was smart enough to take hundreds of thousands to poison rivers and streams he wouldn’t be such a scumbag.
This ad is just goddamned brilliant at connecting the disingenuous dots for the easily duped.
And this message was “approved” — ultimately — by a former prosecutor who’s now being investigated by the office he once led….
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.