Department of Justice

Well, you’ve got to hand it to them: if we’re going to say that corporations are people, then we need to start subjecting them to criminal sanctions for committing victimless crimes. It’s only fair. So it’s heartening this morning to see that the government has secured an indictment — based on a 9-year investigation — of a major corporation for dealing drugs. Welcome to personhood in America!

And this is not some pharma company trying to get America hooked on the new Prozac. We’re talking about a non-pharma company peddling illegal drugs and getting called out on it by the feds….

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With the Supreme Court’s 2013 term concluding on Monday, many Americans are assessing how they feel about the judicial branch of their government. Even if you are still reeling about some of the decisions made recently by the least dangerous branch, don’t forget the executive. The president and his agencies can also make you wonder how the American experiment is panning out.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton issued an order to hear oral arguments from lawyers representing the Internal Revenue Service and the conservative nonprofit True the Vote. True the Vote is one of the conservative groups claiming IRS improperly targeted its application for nonprofit status based on the group’s political and philosophical affiliation. True the Vote filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and expedited discovery on Monday, calling for an independent forensics examination of any IRS hard drives, servers, or other computer hardware involved in the government agency’s possible targeting of conservative nonprofits’ applications for tax-exempt status. It wants an outside computer expert to try to ascertain how and when any electronic evidence, such as former IRS Commissioner Lois Lerner’s emails, may have been lost. Also, it would be great if the government didn’t spoliate — I mean “recycle” — any more evidence….

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* Donald Sterling allegedly threatened to kill Shelly Sterling’s lawyer. Look Don, threatening to kill lawyers will certainly help your image, but you may be too far gone. [New York Daily News]

* “Tagger arrested for tagging courtroom while awaiting prosecution for tagging.” [Lowering the Bar]

* You know public law schools are more expensive today than in 1985. But just how much more expensive may absolutely shock you. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Law school tutor seems creepily excited about making students cry. [Sunshine and Potatoes]

* 17 bizarre lawsuits. I don’t know, I view the people making sure I get every delicious inch of my meatball sub as heroes. [Crime Wire]

* Dallas just threw its support behind reparations for slavery. Because obviously they didn’t bother to read the resolution. Democracy in action! [Gawker]

* J. Christian Adams misunderstands an election law. This shocks me not at all. In the past, he complained to me that Pam Karlan didn’t understand voting rights based on a panel I covered. She’s now the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Voting Rights and Adams is still spouting off (affiliate link) about how the DOJ is bending over to service the Black Panthers. [Election Law Blog]

* Did you know the history of drones in America dates back to the Civil War? Well, now you do. And knowing is some proportion of the battle. Infographic below…. [Criminal Justice Degree Hub]

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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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Perils of A Criminal Trial Redux; or, DOJ Belatedly Notices It Has Recording Equipment”

* A DLA Piper partner was cleared by the firm in connection with a string of sexist emails exchanged with a client because real lads don’t get in trouble for such trifling behavior. We’ll have more on this later. [Am Law Daily]

* Patton Boggs partners started voting on the firm’s merger with Squire Sanders yesterday. Apparently there’s at least one partner who will not be allowed to join the new firm because of prior conduct. Sucks to be you, guy. [Reuters]

* “It’s the best way to prepare for a whole variety of things.” Right now is one of the best times to go to law school, say California law school deans who really need to get asses in empty seats. [Daily Transcript]

* “We are a better people than what these laws represent.” Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage was struck down yesterday, making it the 14th victory in a row for the marriage equality movement. [Bloomberg]

* Showtime just bought a law firm comedy about “four smartass, workaholic associates” in Biglaw trying to make partner and avoid being murdered by the office serial killer at the same time. Uh, yeah. [Deadline]

* The best part of the DOJ’s charges against the Chinese hackers is definitely the fact that we now have a “Wanted” poster for “Wang Dong.” Third graders of the world, go ahead and snicker. [What About Clients]

* This is a literal way of sticking it to the banks — man arrested for attempting to have sex with an ATM machine. He was charged with public intoxication. And solicitation… goddamned $3.00 out of network charge. [The Smoking Gun]

* A new NFL lawsuit alleges that the NFL illegally used painkillers to cover up injuries. This story is brought to you by the letters D, U, and H. [Sports Illustrated]

* In an interview, the admissions dean of the University of Texas says the school “extend[s] opportunities to students who aren’t 100% perfect on paper.” No kidding. [Tipping the Scales]

* Australian lawyers are trying to argue that their cease and desist letters are copyrighted and cannot be republished. Professor Volokh explains why that’s not a viable argument in the United States. We. Totally. Concur. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* A transwoman was denied a requested name change. The judge? The former counsel to Liberty University. Of course. [GayRVA]

* Twitter icon Judge Dillard cited Wikipedia in a decision. Didn’t Keith Lee just have an article about that? [Court of Appeals of Georgia]

* More analysis of Gaston Kroub’s look at Biglaw’s Scarlet Letter. [Law and More]

* The DOJ announced that LSAC will pay $7.73 million and institute systemic reforms over its ADA violations. If only the DOJ could get on top of LSAC’s problems securing your private personal information. [U.S. Department of Justice (press release)]

Glenn Greenwald

I have lawyers who are extremely well-connected at the Justice Department who usually can, with one phone call, get [Attorney General Eric] Holder on the phone. And they actually have gotten the people they wanted to get on the phone. And those people have been very unusually unforthcoming about what their thinking is or what’s happening, even to the extent of not being willing to tell them whether there’s already an indictment filed under seal or whether there’s a grand jury investigation…. [T]hey clearly want me to linger in this state of uncertainty.

– Lawyer turned journalist Glenn Greenwald, famous for his reporting on NSA surveillance, discussing with GQ the legal limbo he finds himself in.

(What Greenwald thinks about Hillary Clinton — hint: he’s not a fan — after the jump.)

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You Won’t Believe How Much These 18 Cats Look Like Former Solicitors General — by Laurence Tribe

So which of these are real and which are not?

* Cass Sunstein is writing listicles on the best Supreme Court justices. [Bloomberg View]

* Attorney General Holder is really going to get to the bottom of these serious allegations that the IRS targeted conservative groups. [TaxProf Blog]

* The ABA is ending the mandatory use of the LSAT to allow some struggling schools more flexibility in filling empty seats. [The Faculty Lounge]

* The DOJ is looking into whether or not “God” has such a stranglehold on religion in America that it constitutes an antitrust violation. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* A pair of Texas lawyers tussle over the rights to a motorcycle club they ran. [Texas Lawyer]

* Americans in the 80s made fun of lawyers more than any other society. [Overlawyered]

Here’s a sentence from a recent Seventh Circuit opinion:

[T]his case shows every sign of being an overzealous prosecution for a technical violation of a criminal regulatory statute — the kind of rigid and severe exercise of law-enforcement discretion that would make Inspector Javert proud.

This was a sentence from the dissent.

Amazingly, though, the majority voted to reverse the conviction. Judge Sykes, who authored the dissent, would have affirmed the conviction — though, presumably, not because she thinks a Javert-like prosecution is a model that the Department of Justice ought to aspire to.

It’s an odd day when such strong language appears in an opinion that supports a court of appeals affirming a district court decision. And this case, United States v. Abair, is odd. (And thank you, Professor Volokh, for pointing the case out!)

Why is the case odd?

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On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit benchslapped a gaggle of lawyers for filing briefs with excessive acronyms. The court’s per curiam order directed the parties to “submit briefs that eliminate uncommon acronyms used in their previously filed final briefs.”

Alas, attempts to comply with this order have raised a new problem — a problem that some readers saw a mile away….

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