Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Russian Probe, Paul Manafort, and Moving Up the Ladder


Much has already been written about the F.B.I.'s predawn raid, earlier this week, of the home of former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort.  And much has been speculated about the reasons why the feds utilized a search warrant, instead of utilizing a grand jury subpoena or seeking voluntary compliance. But no one, outside the investigation, at this point, really knows!

As a former federal prosecutor, I can tell you that, many times, the feds will use a search warrant because they fear that records might be destroyed, or not provided, if one of the other methods is utilized.  In addition, as some have speculated, maybe the feds are just trying to get Manafort's attention and, from their perspective, try to scare him, in order to help them move up the ladder to reach juicier targets. But again, who knows?!  Their goals haven't leaked, yet!  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

AMERICAN JURY TRIALS



Today, I simply wanted to write about the role of the jury in the American criminal
justice system.  After more than 38 years as a criminal lawyer, including 26 years as a
former prosecutor, and since then, over 12 years as a criminal defense attorney, I can
honestly say that, even though mistakes occur, our jury system usually gets it right!


I would much prefer my own fate to be decided by a jury of my peers, drawn from
my community, than by a judge or group of political appointees, which is often
the case in other countries around the world!


What is you opinion?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Former T.V. Infomercial King, Kevin Trudeau, Sentenced to Ten Years

[Photo of Kevin Trudeau from Wikipedia]


     Did you hear the news about the sentencing of former television informercial spokesman Kevin Trudeau?  According to published news reports, Trudeau has been
sentenced to serve a whopping ten years in federal prison, following his conviction on
a federal contempt charge.

     Here's hoping that other t.v. hucksters looking to prey on consumers will pay attention to what happened to Trudeau, as they ply their own diet and health miracles/quick fixes each night on late night t.v.!

     What do you think?


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Favorite White Collar Crime Movies and American Hustle

[American Hustle Movie Poster From Wikipedia]
As a former federal prosecutor and, currently, as an Augusta, Georgia criminal defense lawyer, I love books and movies about courtrooms and crime.

What is your favorite movie about white collar crime? Some of mine include: The Firm, starring Tom Cruise, Silkwood, starring Meryl Streep, and A Civil Action, starring John Travolta.

But after this weekend, if the critics are correct, I may be updating my personal list of favorites with a new David O. Russell film, called American Hustle. This new white collar crime movie has everything, including good directing, good acting, (with Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence, among others), and, apparently, a good, fast-paced script! The film reportedly focuses on the F.B.I.'s use of a two-bit con artist to pull a sting on some crooked politicians!

Speaking of stings, that reminds me of another one of my favorite movies about white collar crime:  The Sting, which starred Paul Newman and Robert Redford!

Here's hoping that American Hustle lives up to its billing and that it becomes one of our all-time favorite movies about white collar crime!

Again, what are some of your favorites?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay Wins Appeal

[Tom DeLay's photo from "Dancing With the Stars" from wikipedia]
Did you hear the news? According to various news reports, a Texas appellate court has set aside the money laundering conviction of former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay. You may recall that DeLay had been convicted of allegedly funneling $190,000 in corporate contributions through his political action committee to various local state Republican candidates. Texas law generally forbids corporate contributions to state candidates. But Texas law also requires that, as an essential element, in order for it to be money laundering, the funds in question must, in fact, be illegally obtained funds.

In setting aside DeLay's conviction, the two-one court majority found that the State had failed to prove that the money which DeLay donated to the local candidates was, in fact, tainted money.

This case illustrates the point that prosecutors must be sure that they can prove each and every element of a criminal charge BEFORE seeking an indictment. As a former federal prosecutor, I faced the same challenge on each federal indictment I sought.

Naturally, DeLay is reportedly elated over the appellate court's decision. It remains to be seen whether or not the district attorney will appeal to the highest Texas appellate court. But one can only hope, in my opinion, that they will get their ducks in a row before proceeding any further on such a questionable course. In my opinion, this was a rank, ill-advised political prosecution from the beginning. The appellate court's finding certainly supports that conclusion!  What do you think?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mark Twain, Crime Rates, And Statistics

[Photo of Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens from wikipedia]
In my opinion, Mark Twain had it right when he said about statistics that, "[t]here are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics!" I don't trust crime statistics, either! I thought about Twain's quote when I read online, today, at neighborhoodscout.com, that, based upon statistical reports, Columbia County, the county I live in, is one of the safer counties in our State, in contrast to neighboring Augusta, Georgia, which reportedly has one of the highest crime rates!

Now, don't get me wrong! As a former state and federal prosecutor, and as a long-time Columbia County resident, I know fully well that, generally, Columbia County is a much safer place. And our local sheriff does a great job. But my point is that you can't believe statistics alone in drawing any conclusions about which place is safer, because, simply put, statistics are unreliable.

Let me give you an example to prove my point! Let's assume that a sheriff in one county works really hard and makes a large number of arrests one year. Ironically, the increase in arrest statistics will indicate that crime is getting worse in that county, even though the sheriff has actually taken more bad guys off the streets! In other words, the crime rate is up, but more bad guys are behind bars! So, it actually should be safer!

The converse is equally true! A lazy sheriff may make fewer arrests and then falsely claim credit when the crime rate appears, on paper, to go down!

So, when it comes to crime rates and statistics, I agree with Mark Twain! Crime rates and statistical reports are often just a bunch of lies!

What do you think?