Judges Push Back Against Prosecutorial Abuses

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Prosecutorial overreaching is still occurring in courts across the nation, but judges are beginning to push back.

In the Ted Stevens case, the former senator was prosecuted on charges that he failed to properly report gifts from a lobbyist—only for the government to later drop all charges against him, saying that his jury conviction should be dismissed because government prosecutors and investigators improperly withheld evidence from the defense team, and possibly even fabricated evidence.

It continued with cases previously discussed on this blog, such as former Agriprocessors, Inc. executive Sholom Rubashkin’s acquittal, when a state prosecutor tried to piggyback off the high-profile federal fraud case against Rubaskin by bringing unsubstantiated child labor claims. There was also the dismissal of a case against Las Vegas attorney Noel Gage, when the district judge found that prosecutors selectively granted witness immunity to gain a tactical advantage.

It thus appears that federal judges are no longer willing to rubber stamp prosecutorial actions in white collar cases. On November 10, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed the conviction of a Silicon Valley corporate financial officer, ruling that “no reasonable juror” could find him guilty of securities fraud beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prabhat Goyal, the former CFO of Network Associates, Inc. (now McAfee) was accused of responsibility for accounting procedures that misstated the software security company’s revenue and misleading its auditors between 1998 and 2000. In 2007, prosecutors alleged that Goyal recognized the company’s profits prematurely and charged him with disguising $330 million in losses. Goyal was found guilty of these alleged crimes and sentenced to a year in prison.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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