In Lerach Case, An Interesting Sentencing Distinction


The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles just took an interesting and nuanced position concerning a very high-profile request for community service as part of a guilty plea.

Disgraced plaintiffs attorney William Lerach pleaded guilty in 2007 to a charge of conspiring to obstruct justice and make false statements in many of his law firm’s class actions. He completed a two-year prison term and is in the process of doing a required 1,000 hours of community service.

Lerach proposed, as part of his community service, that he would teach a class at the University of California Irvine School of Law on “Regulation of Free Market Capitalism – Are We Failing.” The Probation Office said no – teaching in a law school isn’t the same as working in a soup kitchen. Lerach appealed to U.S. District Judge John Walter.

The U.S. attorney’s office did not express a view on the request, but the government drew an interesting distinction in its court papers. Lecturing law students on the mistakes that Lerach himself made, and cautioning them on how to stay on the ethical side of the line, “could serve to promote respect for law and provide deterrence to criminal conduct, in furtherance of 18 U.S.C. §3553(a)(2)(A) and (B) factors,” the U.S. attorney wrote.

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