Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NACDL’s Sept. 16, 2009, White Collar Crime CLE – “The Strategy of Secrets: The Use of Classified Information in White Collar Cases”

Guest Blogger: Michael Price, Coordinator for National Security, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)

This evening we had the privilege of spending the last two hours learning first-hand from the lawyers who defended Zacarias Moussaoui, AIPAC lobbyist Steve Rosen, Wadih El-Hage, Mohamed El-Mezain, David Hicks, and Dr. Ali al-Timimi. They discussed the use of classified information -- both defensively and offensively – in criminal proceedings. Attorney Joshua Dratel, an NACDL board member and an expert in issues related to the use of classified evidence in criminal proceedings, moderated tonight’s panel. The panel also included attorneys Abbe D. Lowell, a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and head of the Firm’s White-Collar Criminal Defense practice group in Washington, D.C., and Edward B. MacMahon, Jr., who serves as a member of NACDL’s National Security Committee and, like Joshua Dratel, as an attorney with the John Adams Project, a joint effort of NACDL and the ACLU. You can read more about these esteemed panelists by simply clicking their names and linking to their biographies.

The Classified Information Procedures Act (“CIPA”) establishes detailed procedures for “matters relating to classified information that may arise in connection” with a prosecution. In essence, it regulates the use of classified information in criminal cases. In practice, it almost exclusively prohibits it. The ever-broadening definition of “national security” together with the incentives for law enforcement to characterize criminal matters as implicating “national security” render “the prospects of otherwise ‘ordinary’ white collar cases involving classified information and CIPA significantly greater,” Dratel explained as he introduced the subject matter of tonight’s panel.

In today's world, the use of evidence the government would rather keep secret has started to, and will continue to, seep into a wide range of federal criminal prosecutions. This panel of highly experienced white collar defenders provided strategic guidance in how to respond when the government claims the evidence in your case is classified as well as when a defender might use CIPA to their own advantage.

In addition to providing practitioners with a primer on fundamental CIPA principles, the panel brought to bear their own experiences as counsel in some of the highest profile criminal matters involving CIPA-related issues, including an extensive discussion of lessons from criminal cases including those of Zacarias Moussaoui and AIPAC lobbyist Steve Rosen. The panelists provided detailed examples of how CIPA issues can arise in white collar matters as well as guidance on (i) how to defend against the government’s invocation of CIPA to withhold classified material and (ii) how to offensively use CIPA to capitalize on the real or possible presence of classified material in aid of the defense.

The panelists explained, in detail, how CIPA, which is not a discovery device, will rear its head in a criminal case, specifically delineating the three general contexts in which it arises in a criminal matter. Ed MacMahon explained how “the first thing that happens is the issuance of an order establishing procedures under CIPA.” The panelists clearly and forcefully emphasized that the constitutional issues that are at play in a criminal proceeding demand that defense counsel constantly be mindful of the importance of the record they are making as they proceed. That said, MacMahon emphasized the importance of counsel not being afraid of CIPA. Though, as Lowell explained, dealing with CIPA issues can be “a very difficult and cumbersome process.” Indeed, often “judges are intimated by the statute,” Dratel said, adding that therefore knowledgeable defense counsel “can be a very important part of the judge’s education.”

The challenges, of course, are significant. For example, the panelists discussed that while the government has the right to take interlocutory appeals of various CIPA-related decision, the defense does not share a parallel right. In addition, while counsel for the defense may be able to secure some level of security clearance to gain access to certain information, in most circumstances the defendant cannot.

In sum, the panelists provided invaluable insight into both the defensive and offensive opportunities presented by this statute. They also provided concrete, practical guidance for conducting a defense where classified information is at play, such as how to leverage different federal agencies’ perceptions of the nature of information in their custody.

As the summer comes to a close, so does NACDL's White Collar Crime CLE Summer Series.  But don't fret, if you weren't able to make it to one or more of these outstanding programs, you can purchase a recording of any or all of them here.

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September 16, 2009 in Computer Crime | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NACDL Summer Series - The Use of Classified Information in White Collar Cases

The last of its summer series, NACDL with Joshua Dratel, Abbe Lowell & Ed MacMahon, Jr this Wed., September 16th on - "The Strategy of Secrets: The Use of Classified Information in White Collar Cases."

Program Summary:

The Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) establishes detailed procedures for “matters relating to classified information that may arise in connection” with a prosecution. In today’s world, the use of evidence the government would rather keep secret has started to, and will continue to, seep into a wide range of federal criminal prosecutions. Our panel of highly experienced white collar defenders will provide strategic guidance in how to respond when the government claims the evidence in your case is classified as well as when a defender might use CIPA to their own advantage for affirmative discovery.

Details - CLE Program: 5:00 - 7:00 pm
Wine & Cheese Reception with the Panelists: 7:00 - 7:30 pm

Costs and RSVP see here

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September 15, 2009 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Does DOJ Need to Rethink How it Conducts White Collar Investigations

Noted here is a discussion of the recent death of an individual who was indicted and had plead guilty in a case related to former Governor Blagojevich. This fundraiser for Blogojevich was facing yet another trial and also the threat of a sooner incarceration (see TalkLeft here).  Today Edvard Pettersson and Jeran Wittenstein of Bloomberg report on the death of Danny Pang, the indicted founder of Private Equity Management Group, Inc. See  Danny Pang Autopsy Shows No Foul Play, Coroner Says

The death of an individual facing indictment, under the strain of an investigation, or being subjected to pressure by the government to cooperate, is nothing new. With increased possible penalties for white collar offenses one has to be concerned about seeing more of these incidents. Sadly, individuals facing these investigations and ramifications garner little if any support from the general public. But perhaps an investigation and compiling of these incidents is warranted.

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Addendum - Chicago Breaking News Center -Christopher Kelly may have taken rat poison

September 14, 2009 in Investigations | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

New Scholarship - Should the SEC Spin Off the Enforcment Division

Professor Peter Henning (Wayne State, visiting at Indiana U- Indianapolis) posted a new piece on SSRN titled, Should the SEC Spin Off the Enforcement Division -

The abstract describes it as:

The current environment is highly supportive of increased government regulation, particularly in the financial field. One of the beneficiaries of this push for greater oversight of the markets appears to be the Securities & Exchange Commission, despite some recent high profile enforcement failures, most particularly the massive Ponzi scheme undertaken by Bernie Madoff. In this essay, I raise the question whether the SEC should retain its enforcement authority over fraud cases, or whether it would be better served if that function were shifted to the Department of Justice. The SEC’s recent push to take on a more prosecutorial air gives the clear impression that an adversarial approach to enforcement of the securities laws is in order. However, the Commission must continue to solicit the views of Wall Street to fulfill its regulatory function, much like Madoff was included in the SEC’s deliberations on rules related to the stock market. At some point in the future, the push for greater regulation is likely to pass from the scene as the pendulum swings back toward a less intrusive approach to oversight. Whether the Commission can resist renewed entreaties to go easier on enforcing the law to free the capital markets from strict regulation is an open question. To allow the SEC to regulate Wall Street properly, splitting off at least a portion of the enforcement function to an agency with expertise in prosecutions - the United States Department of Justice - is at least worthy of consideration as the government looks to increase regulation.

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September 14, 2009 in Scholarship, SEC | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)