Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Some more comments on the Quattrone decision:
- Did Quattrone win? In a sense he clearly did as he was not convicted of a crime and does not have to serve time, at least now. But in a sense he also loses. In September 2004, he was sentenced to 18 months. This decision coming down 18 months later means that Quattrone has to again go through another trial. This will be his third trial. One can only imagine the cost that this places on the accused. This cost is not only measured in terms of the monetary cost of having defense counsel try it yet again, but the cost emotionally of having this matter continue to hang over his life. In this respect, one has to credit Martha Stewart who made the decision to - just get it over with in going to jail prior to the Second Circuit ruling on her case.
- Did the taxpayers win? Clearly not. This will mean the cost of a third trial. Obviously due process and judicial fairness needs to come first, but at some point should the government just say -enough is enough and move onto other pending matters. Besides they cost the accused a good bit in having this tried twice.
- Will Quattrone have a better chance on retrial? Retrials can work for or against a defendant. On one hand the defendant now has all the discovery in hand, has knowledge of what the witnesses will say, and has the ability to better plan out the defense. On the other hand, retrials also mean that the prosecution knows exactly what arguments the defense will make and the defense that will be presented. But Quattrone will most definitely have one new aspect at the retrial, and that's the new judge. The court not only gave Quattrone a new judge but also provided guidance for the next court. Some of the evidence admitted at the last trial will not be permitted this time around. (RIM emails).
- What advice do prosecutors learn from this decision? Sometimes using obstruction - a shortcut type of charge- is really not a shortcut at all. Maybe it might just be best to investigate a case and proceed to trial on the actual conduct. A lesson also learned perhaps from the Andersen case.
- What advice do judges learn from this decision? This decision has a thoughtful discussion of a very important topic for all judges - how far can you go regarding trial-management authority. At some point the court needs to move a trial along. Yet, equally important is the fact that someone stands accused of a felony and deserves his or her day in court. The Second Circuit notes that judges have "'the discretion to place reasonable limits on the presentation of evidence.'” (citations omitted here) The court also provides an appropriate balancing test to allow for efficiency but also provide for justice. Efficiency has become an enormous concern lately, especially with long white collar cases. This court notes that efficiency may be important, but there also needs to be respect for the rights of the accused.
(esp) Addendum - check out Tom Kirkendall's thoughtful commentary on Houston Clear Thinkers here.
Additional Comments on the Quattrone Decision-
Washington Post - here
New York Times - here
Tampa Tribune (AP) - here