Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Rena I. Steinzor (University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law) has posted Federal White Collar Crime: Six Case Studies Drawn from Ongoing Prosecutions to Protect Public Health, Worker and Consumer Safety, and the Environment (Center for Progressive Reform Issue Alert, No. 1507, Nov. 2015) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The Heritage Foundation, the Koch brothers, and other allies have pressed members of Congress to deal with the “overcriminalization” of federal law enforcement by enacting changes in statutory mens rea standards. These radical revisions would undermine white collar criminal prosecutions for everything from mail, wire, and securities fraud to adulterated food and drugs to mine safety and automobile defects. Advocates argue that Congress has put too many laws on the books without specifying whether a defendant must have a “guilty mind” (mens rea) in order to be convicted. They add that federal agencies have created thousands of so-called “regulatory violations” that trigger criminal liability and that these provisions are so hyper technical that no reasonable person could understand what they mean, much less apply them to ordinary conduct.
This paper tells a very different story about the people and corporations the Department of Justice (DOJ) has prosecuted or investigated for white collar crimes in the last several years.
When examined in detail, each incident demonstrated that corporate managers acted with recklessness regarding the safety of their workers, their customers, and the environment and were willfully blind to what the law required. In most cases, regulatory authorities warned them repeatedly that their conduct was illegal, and they were approached multiple times by employees and outside experts gravely concerned about the intolerable risks they were taking.