Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Defense Attorneys Look at Winning the White Collar Case

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) had a white collar track for those attending the spring seminar.  Speaking on Friday of last week were a host of white collar criminal defense attorneys, including Abbe David Lowell, Jane Barrett, Tracy Minor, and John Keker. 

One fascinating presentation was given by Steve Peters.  Although titled, "Honest Services in Corporate America: The Federal Investigation of Qwest Communications International," the honest services law was not the focus of the discussion until near the end of the presentation.  The front part of the presentation was focused on the powerpoints and evidence used in his recent trial.  He described what has been called the "distraction defense." 

Attorney Peters focused on the specific events of each day in the defendant's life that corresponded to the dates the government was using in its indictment. He placed these personal events on a screen using powerpoints with adobe.   The result was a convincing presentation that the accused could not possibly have the mens rea to commit the crimes in question.   Not only did each powerpoint bring forth enormous sympathy for the accused, but it also showed how it was unlikely that this person would be focused on fraudulent acts at a place of business when so many significant events were occurring in his personal life.

The specific facts of this case made this defense appropriate.  But the presentation of this defense was what was particularly effective.  The use of technology served an important role in explaining the defense position to the jury.



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