Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Arthur Anderson Conviction Reversed

Yes, the conviction of Arthur Anderson accounting firm has been reversed by the Supreme Court, with William Rehnquist of all people writing the majority opinion. Yes, that Rhenquist, who so frequently pooh poohs just about every defendant's claim of trial error. You see, for the rich, corporate and powerful, he's willing to look in every possible place to ensure that that the conviction was properly obtained, sorry if you're a poor minority. But, this is not the purpose of the post.

2 things come to mind here, but one caveat first. I really have no love for Arthur Anderson, and any of the things that they, or the rest of corporate America, pulled, while looting the country. In fact, I really detest the lawyers who played a role in the looting by telling the companies how much they could stretch the boundaries of legality and still get away with it (hopefully). This is really one of the joys of being a public defender - you don't ever have to advise people how to break the law, how much they can get away with, how to commit their crimes better or more legally. You get a case and the facts are there. You investigate it, you represent a person's position, but you do not become an advocate for their wrongdoing, only for their legal position. So many of these corporate lawyers stood there in the corporate boardrooms and became vehicles for immoral thievery - legal or not. But those are not my points, here they are.

1) Many have been saying that Arthur Anderson got off on a technicality (see here and here, for instance) - really, only a non-trial lawyer could ever say that. As anyone who has done a trial, especially a criminal trial, knows, the jury instructions are insturmental in the real determination of guilt or innocence. Absurd instructions that imply that just about anyone could be found guilty (as apparently existed in this case), will probably result in just about anyone being found guilty. The instructions are insturmental, because they assign the level of culpability a jury needs to find to convict, they determine the types of acts one must commit to be guilty, etc. For instance, if you are charged with murder in a car accident without drugs or alcohol (not impossible by the way), and the instructions say that any death at the hands of another constitutues murder, then you will likely be found guilty of murder, even if you did nothing wrong in causing the accident (as in if the victim caused the accident). The instructions are paramount. It's clear that you helped to cause someone's death, but does that make you a murderer? Does that mean if the case is reversed due to jury instructional error that you got off on a technicality? Of course not.

Point 2 - The Justice Department doesn't really care about the reversal because, from their perspective, the damage has been done already. Ditto the judge. In Anderson's case, the fact of the conviction, even reversed, destroyed the firm, which is what the prosecution wanted. And if the prosecution wanted it, then so did the judge.

An interesting dynamic takes place here. After there is a conviction, everyone just says "they've been convicted." In everyone's mind, the game's over. When the conviction gets reversed (which is very rare, by the way, at least for non corporate defendants), then everyone assumes that they got off on a technicality, just because the subject of jury instructions are so esoteric. So everyone says "well, they were guilty anyways." If they're ever retried (why bother now that the company's out of business), the presumption will be that they are probably guilty since they were previously convicted.

So, the attitude of the prosecution and judge are "get a conviction no matter what, that changes all burdens and presumptions to those of guilt, and that's really what matters."

Furthermore, the damage is done. The company's gone. In the case of defendants exonerated after a decade on death row, prosecutors have the same attitude - just get a conviction, we'll let the appeals courts sort out what happens after that, all that matters is that we can say "they're guilty."

That presumption follows people around for the rest of their lives (assuming they're so lucky to live much of those lives outside of jail), unless, of course, you're a right wing ideologue, in which case you can have convictions reversed and claim that this means you were innocent with impunity (see Oliver North and John Poindexter). Or, if you are a right winger, you can also claim that the search is illegal, even though you've spent your whole career railing against courts that are soft on crime for tossing out convictions of people for illegal searches and seizures (see Rush Limbaugh). Or you can pooh pooh the meaning of your non-violent drug use even though you've called for poor blacks to be incarcerated for the same (see Rush Limbaugh again). But I digress (I really couldn't resist those digs).


Windypundit said...

To those who say "A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged," I answer back "A liberal is a conservative who's been indicted."

(Solen from Alan Dershowitz, maybe.)

PD Dude said...

Actually, I think the line was stolen from Bonfire of the Vanities.

mariognitrini111 said...

Re: PD Liable in Rampart Frame Ups.
May 26th, 2005.

Public Defender Dude:

My Name is Mario G. Nitrini 111. I was Personally Involved in The OJ Simpson Case. I Posted on the May 26th, 2005 Article about Rampart. I Posted here because I hope You read My Post on Rampart. You Will find it Very Facsinating.


Mario G. Nitrini 111

Quit Smoking said...

Hi, I was looking around some blogger blogs for some ideas to start my own on ebooks and you have given me some great ideas. Good blog. I will check it out every week. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a Free site Free Article Search. It pretty much covers african american author related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

hiro said...

Your blog is excellent - keep it up! Don't miss visiting this site about divorce lawyer

gesticulatively resources said...

I was looking for a place to submit my medical article and stumbled across your blog. I enjoy reading blogs with my coffe in the morning before work. its fun to see whats up with people around the world.

Anyway, I did find a free blog and article submission site here Site Submit/Article Submission

Anyway, I enjoyed your blog. Have a nice day : )

gesticulatively resources said...

I was looking for a place to submit my scientific article and stumbled across your blog. I enjoy reading blogs with my coffe in the morning before work. its fun to see whats up with people around the world.

Anyway, I did find a free blog and article submission site here Site Submit/Article Submission

Anyway, I enjoyed your blog. Have a nice day : )

Cash Advance Man said...

I skim a lot of blogs, and so far yours is in the Top 3 of my list of favorites. I'm going to dive in and try my hand at it, so wish me luck.

It'll be in a totally different area than yours (mine is about danger of smoking) I know, it sounds strange, but it's like anything, once you learn more about it, it's pretty cool. It's mostly about danger of smoking related articles and subjects.

wow power leveling said...

In English class, one girl Cheap WoW Gold said never give up when discussing. It just reminded me wow goldsomething about myself.WoW Gold Maybe it is wow power leveling something about love.WoW Gold My love, which began on July 3rd of WoW Gold 2005 and finished on August wow leveling 23rd of 2008, taught me many things. wow leveling It is not a pleasant world of warcraft power leveling thing to look back on world of warcraft power leveling that. But I know I world of warcraft power leveling must learn something from it,world of warcraft leveling no matter what it is, world of warcraft leveling happiness or sorrow.Our wow gold love did not go on so smoothly and we went through many things.

Anonymous said...

China Highlights
China Highlights
China Tours
China Hotels
China Attractions
Beijing China Travel
Shanghai China Travel
Xi'an China Travel
Guilin China Travel
Yangshuo China Travel