Friday, June 17, 2005

Perspective on the Kozlowski/Swartz Verdicts

This was without doubt a big victory for the office of Robert Morgenthau.  Morgenthau, who was elected District Attorney of Manhattan in 1974, is in the midst of a hotly contested election against Leslie Crocker Snyder (see here).    What does this verdict mean?

1. With 22 of 23 counts being guilty, this is not a questionable verdict.  Despite the long time the jury deliberated, it would appear to be a strong verdict against the defendants.

2. Morgenthau issued a public statement saying in part that, "[t]his verdict is an endorsement of the principle of equal justice under the law; crimes committed in corporate offices will be treated according to the same standards as other crimes. No one is above the law - all crimes must be prosecuted vigorously and those responsible will be held accountable."

3. The prosecution took a different approach in this trial, presenting a leaner trial without all the extraneous items.  Simple is almost always best. This was not the shower curtain show trial.  See here and here.

4. Although the maximum sentences are 15 to 30 years, it appears unlikely that the defendants would receive a sentence such as this.

5.  This is the second trial, as a result of a prior mistrial, and in this trial Dennis Kozlowski took the witness stand.

6. The trial took many months and therefore was costly to taxpayers.

7.  The case is far from over as there will now likely be appeals.  Again a further cost to taxpayers.

8.Was this form of deterrence necessary, or could civil sanctions have sent a sufficient message? - -   You misuse our funds, we take away yours.


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