Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hank Asbill on Representing an AOL Exec

Henry "Hank" Asbill spoke as the keynote speaker at the White Collar Crime Institute held at Stetson University College of Law. Asbill successfully represented an AOL executive in both the criminal and civil actions brought by the government. The theme of this talk:  when the government is over-aggressive it can backfire.  This is especially true when the lawyer is Hank Asbill, who calls the government's bluff and tries to proceed on the civil case that the government just assumes will be stayed. From the jury selection process in the case, to how the venue was chosen by the government, were examples of how being over-aggressive can come back to haunt the government. His inspirational talk emphasized that a defense attorney can stand up to the government.  One additional trial point he made concerned the importance of humor in the courtroom, especially in a long trial.

It was especially good to hear him mention something that has been bothering me.  I continually see the government issue press releases for indictments, pleas, and convictions.  But why is it that we never see a press release for a not guilty.  If the government is truly a minister of justice, then reporting the not-guilty verdict should be just as important.  Asbill noted how the government keeps the Indictment up on the web, but they fail to mention what happened - a not guilty and no civil finding of liability.

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