Sunday, April 11, 2010

Justice Stevens on White Collar Issues

As everyone remarks on the forthcoming retirement of Justice Stevens from the Supreme Court bench, I have to include mention of two white collar crime decisions that he authored.  They show the breadth of his jurisprudence. 

First in 1992, he wrote the majority decision in Evans v. United States.  This Hobbs Act case came in the aftermath of the McCormick decision, a case that emphasized the need for a quid pro quo in extortion cases. Justice Stevens, in Evans, narrowed this doctrine finding that an affirmative act of inducement was not necessary. This one went to the prosecution.

In 2000, he authored the Court's decision in United States v. Hubbell. In this case Justice Stevens describes the "foregone conclusion" standard, holding it applicable to acts of production. With 13,120 pages of documents, he noted that "[t]he government cannot cure this deficiency through the overbroad argument that a businessman such as respondent will always possess general business and tax records that fall within the broad categories described in this subpoena."  This one went to the defense.

Justice Stevens will leave the Court with many noteworthy decisions that affect white collar cases, such as those in the sentencing sphere.  And his votes, including those in which he concurred or dissented are equally noted. We can hope that his replacement will offer the care and understanding to legal doctrine that he has provided.

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