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Expert Testimony Issues on the Rise
Top Legal News | 2008/04/01 15:05
The Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in United States v. Nacchio has recently reversed an insider trading conviction in the high profile criminal case, finding, in short, that the trial court improperly denied the defendant an opportunity to call an expert witness. The Court ordered a new trial. "The Court based its holding on the improper exclusion of expert testimony, specifically, an economic analysis of Nacchio's stock trading patterns," says Joseph Martini, a partner with Wiggin & Dana LLP and a member of the firm's White-Collar Litigation and Appellate Practice Groups. "From a review of the cases, it appears that issues concerning the introduction of expert testimony are coming up in more and more white collar criminal cases," he observes. Wiggin and Dana partner James Glasser also notes that during his tenure as former Chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut, "defense counsel in white collar cases often argued against federal charges by pointing to experts opinions on such issues as the application of complex accounting principles. These issues are now coming up at trial," says Glasser. Martini and Glasser are available to write or comment on expert testimony issues in white-collar criminal cases including the Nacchio trial.


DOJ to Continue Crackdown on Political Corruption
Top Legal News | 2008/03/28 15:53

US Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Thursday he would personally ensure that the US Department of Justice does not bow to political pressure as it prosecutes government officials for corruption. In a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Mukasey said:

Public corruption can inflict damage that is not only costly but also profound. When a public servant at any level of government exploits his or her office for improper purposes, the damage is measured not just in dollars and cents but also in erosion of the public trust upon which depends the survival of our system of government.

We fight, investigate and prosecute public corruption to ensure that those who hold public office live up to the public's trust, and to build the public's confidence in the very idea of government, without which the government cannot function.

The investigation and prosecution of public corruption is therefore among the highest obligations of law enforcement, and it should come as no surprise that I consider it to be one of the top priorities of the Department of Justice. In recent years, the Department's career prosecutors and criminal investigators have been engaged in a renewed effort to pursue corruption at all levels and in all branches of government.

Mukasey emphasized that the joint efforts of the DOJ and US Attorney's offices had resulted in the convictions of 1,093 individuals for corruption in 2006, including former congressmen Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Bob Ney.

Mukasey's speech came only hours after a federal grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico charged Puerto Rican Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila and 12 associates with 27 counts of conspiracy, false statements, wire fraud, federal program fraud and tax crimes related to campaign financing.



Nebraska legislature rejects death penalty ban
Top Legal News | 2008/03/27 12:13

A Nebraska bill that would have banned the death penalty, replacing it with a sentence of life in prison without parole, failed in the Nebraska Legislature  on Tuesday, receiving only 20 of the 25 necessary votes to move forward. Last month, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that execution by electric chair, the only method authorized in the state, was "cruel and unusual" punishment and therefore prohibited by the Nebraska constitution. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman on Tuesday voiced support for the death penalty, saying that the the legislature should decide on a new means of execution that can pass constitutional muster.

In February, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Brunning filed a motion for rehearing on the ban of the electric chair. Nebraska is the only state to solely rely on the electric chair for capital punishment.



SEC Proposes "Naked" Short Selling Anti-Fraud Rule
Top Legal News | 2008/03/26 16:15
On March 17, 2008 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission)
issued a release proposing a new anti-fraud rule under the Securities Exchange Act of
1934, as amended (Exchange Act), which addresses “naked” short selling, which the
SEC has generally defined as “selling short without having stock available for delivery
and intentionally failing to deliver stock within the standard three-day settlement
cycle.”

Specifically, proposed Rule 10b-21 is intended to target: (i) short sellers who
deceive certain persons, such as their broker-dealers, about the source of borrowable
shares, to circumvent the Regulation SHO “locate” requirement; and (ii) long sellers
who misrepresent to their broker-dealers that they own the shares being sold, also to
circumvent Regulation SHO, as well as certain other rules.

The deadline for submitting comments on proposed Rule 10b-21 is May 20, 2008.


Cyclist Landis Appeals Arbitration Court Ruling
Top Legal News | 2008/03/19 18:00
US cyclist Floyd Landis, stripped of his 2006 Tour de France victory for doping, began making his appeal to a three-man panel from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) here on Wednesday.

The private hearing is expected to continue through Monday with no comments from any of the participants, both Landis and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) having agreed to the closed-door session unlike last May's open US hearing.

Landis, 32, has denied wrongdoing and fought his positive test for steroid testosterone on July 20, 2006, but a USADA arbitration panel ruled 2-1 against him last September, resulting in a two-year ban through January 29, 2009.

The International Cycling Union stripped Landis of his 2006 crown after that verdict, awarding the title to Spain's Oscar Pereiro.

In a Manhattan law office, Landis will make much the same case as he did last year, attacking the credibility of the French laboratory which handled his doping samples, and hope the global panel sees matters differently.

The CAS appeal board includes David Williams of New Zealand, Paris attorney Jan Paulsson and New York lawyer David Rivkin.

Swiss-based CAS will announce its binding ruling from Lausanne after completion of the hearing and consideration of the evidence presented.

Landis tested positive for synthetic testosterone after the penultimate 17th stage of the 2006 race. He fell back in stage 16 but rallied in stage 17 to reclaim almost eight minutes on his way to a now-disgraced victory moment.

The USADA arbitration panel noted several areas in which the French lab's handling of the test sample was improper but said the carbon ratio isotope test that showed Landis testing positive outweighed those issues.



Jackson Lawyer: Neverland Auction Off
Top Legal News | 2008/03/14 16:21
Michael Jackson still has Neverland, having cut an 11th-hour deal Thursday to keep it off the auction block.

But the magic that once made the financially troubled entertainer's 2,500-acre paradise in the rolling hills of central California's wine country one of the most talked-about places on Earth seems to have vanished along with its reclusive owner.

Jackson hasn't been seen in this bucolic area of oak-studded hills since he was acquitted in June 2005 of molesting a 13-year-old visitor to his estate, and his absence leaves the future of Neverland, a sort of Hearst Castle for 12-year-olds, in doubt.

"We're all, of course, wondering what's going to happen. We've heard rumors but we don't know anything," said Kim Morrison, one of the administrators of a private school located just across the road from Neverland.



NewsScandal-hit Spitzer faces wait for law firm role
Top Legal News | 2008/03/13 21:32

So what will Eliot Spitzer do next, assuming he escapes criminal prosecution and disciplinary sanction following his alleged involvement with a high-end prostitution ring? If he follows the example of his three living predecessors as governor, he will join a law firm.

George Pataki last year joined Chadbourne & Parke as a counsel in the environmental practice, and Mario Cuomo has long hung his hat at Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Hugh Carey survived the 1987 collapse of Finley Kumble Wagner Underberg Manley Myerson & Casey and is now a partner in the Manhattan office of Harris Beach.

But Spitzer's reasons for resigning office mark him as something of a different candidate.

"It matters how you leave," said the chairman of one large New York firm who asked to remain unnamed.

Former governors and other prominent political names generally have a cachet with clients that makes them attractive to firms, he said, but the scandal forcing Spitzer out of office may have exhausted the current governor's quotient of good will.

"He would need to rehabilitate himself first," agreed the managing partner of another large New York firm who also requested anonymity. It would probably be a year or more before any firm would even consider bringing the soon-to-be ex-governor aboard, the partner said. "He's radioactive in this environment," he added.



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