February 7, 2006
More Proof That We Are Reactive In Creating New Laws
Many of the white collar laws that are created come from reactions to criminal activity. Clearly Sarbanes-Oxley, as well as increased financial institution fraud fines, demonstrate this reaction. This is not new, as one can even go back as far as the 1872 mail fraud statute that was created as part of a revision of the Postal Act, and was initially targeted to prohibit lottery schemes occurring at this period of time.
Some individuals, perhaps, would not have committed the crimes if the statutes had been in place originally. This usually doesn't help them much in making a defense as the prosecution usually has ample tools to prosecute the conduct as there are an array of extremely broad statutes like mail and wire fraud. But it is interesting to see new legislation created each time new white collar conduct becomes a "hit" in the media.
The NYTimes reports here on new lobbying laws in Tennessee. And as noted in their article, it is in "response to an undercover F.B.I. bribery investigation that ensnared four lawmakers."
What I always wonder is whether the crimes would have occurred if the legislation were already in place. Perhaps if we approached criminality proactively, as opposed to reactively, we might reduce criminal conduct further.
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