Sunday, June 4, 2006

The Cost of a White Collar Crime Trial

The Wall Street Journal reports here that Dennis Kozlowski, former CEO of Tyco, has filed an action concerning whether there is insurance coverage for his legal bills.  What is perhaps the most telling aspect here is that Kozlowski's claim is for "nearly $17.8 million." 

Seeing this amount, it is no wonder that the government secures so many plea agreements.  How can mid and lower level executives, who are probably not eligible for a public defender, provide ample representation to defend themselves against government cases?  And in seeing the number of individuals who plead guilty and cooperate with the government, one has to wonder whether their anxiousness to provide "good" testimony for the government is motivated by their inability to properly defend themselves because they cannot afford the cost of the litigation.

White collar cases probably cost more than the typical street crime cases in federal court. For example, as seen in recent high profile white collar cases, the trials tend to be fairly lengthy (thus increased attorney fees).  The trials often require experts such as forensic accountants and individuals able to dissect the business documents of the company (thus increased fees).  And the attorneys handling the cases may be conflicted out of other cases associated with the investigation (thus increased attorney fees). One has to also wonder what amounts it cost the government to prosecute these cases, and is it worth the amount being spent.

(esp) (with thanks to Professor Jerold Israel for a recent conversation that motivated this blog entry)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/2006/06/how_much_does_i.html

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Comments

Following your logic. Does this mean that there was actually some credence to Lay and Skilling's defense? Just curious, could they have actually presented evidence that stated, in general, that some defendants take plea ageements because they can't afford to put on a defense?

Posted by: Ken Riggins | Jun 5, 2006 6:24:51 AM

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