Wednesday, May 18, 2005

When White Collar Crime Trials Turn Into Cures for Insomnia

While the field of white collar crime is (sometimes) considered interesting, and perhaps even "sexy," the trials themselves can be quite laborious, as some of the recent well-known prosecutions have shown that the proceedings can drag on over months.  Tom Kirkendall has a terrific post (here) on his Houston's Clear Thinkers blog about the Enron Broadband Services trial in which the government now estimates that its case-in-chief will take an additional 7-10 days, much to the chagrin of the jurors already laboring through a tedious proceeding.  The trials in the HealthSouth (Scrushy) and Tyco (Kozlowski and Schwartz) cases both began in late January and are only now heading for the jury. For the Tyco case being prosecuted by the Manhattan DA, this is a significant improvement over the first trial, in which the prosecution case lasted for 18 weeks while this time it only took 13 weeks.  Last year, the prosecution of former senior executives of Cendant lasted for five months, and the jury deliberations went on for over a month.  The jury could not reach a verdict on one defendant in that case, former chairman Walter Forbes, and his retrial is scheduled to begin in September.  White collar cases are rarely simple affairs, and usually involve a number of documents and a stream of transactions that need to be placed in a larger context.  Yet, prosecutors sometimes become enamored with the details of a case, especially when they know the evidence so well that everything seems important, and interesting. Will these drawn out trials have a negative effect on the jury's view of the government's case? (ph)


UPDATE (5/18): Larry Ribstein has an interesting take on the travails of the Enron Broadband Services jury here.

Enron, HealthSouth, Prosecutions | Permalink

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