Thursday, May 8, 2008

White Collar Crime Institute - It's Tough Being a Criminal Defense Attorney

The White Collar Crime Institute being held at Stetson University College of Law - Tampa today has a full day of speakers on important issues related to white collar crime.  The opening panel, U.S. v. You - Ethically Representing Your Client Without Becoming One included John Fitzgibbons and Jane Moscowitz, who each emphasized how difficult it is to be a criminal defense attorney today.  They noted the safeguards an attorney needs to take to protect themselves from being a defendant.  Jane Moscowitz, who represents Ben Kuehne (see here and here), stated "don't get in between the government and the money."

This panel couldn't have said more times the phrase- be careful. But it was also noted that lawyers just don't know how much research you have to do today to be careful? It was noted that "if you plea your client guilty there will be no questions about your fee."  But it was also stated that the essence of the problem is that the government refuses to give any guidance.  It used to be that a third party paying the fee was suspicious and today its the opposite.

This panel was moderated by Patrick Doherty (Brown and Doherty).  Other panelists included Paul I. Perez (Fidelity National Financial Inc. and former U.S. Attorney in Florida) and Rachelle D. Bedke (AUSA Middle District of Florida). 

This panel reminds one of how difficult it is to be a criminal defense attorney today.  But should it be?  Should lawyers be fearful about representing those accused of crimes?  Should there be such stumbling blocks that puts lawyers at risk - of possibly being indicted - when they handle criminal matters? DOJ needs to rethink its position on this issue - after all they have an obligation to protect the constitutional rights of individuals accused of crimes.

(esp)

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