Sunday, January 16, 2005

Kozlowski: What Will the Jury Say?

As the re-trial of L. Dennis Kozlowski, former Tyco chief executive, and Mark H. Swartz, Tyco's former chief financial officer, is about to begin (Tuesday)  the New York Times reports that Kozlowski says "'I firmly believe that I never did or intended to do anything wrong.'" The NYTimes reports that  "Kozlowski wants to be clear: the $6,000 shower curtain wasn't his idea." 

Mens rea is often the issue in white collar cases - that is, did the accused act with the proper mental state to commit the crime.  The problem that often arises for the defense is that it may be difficult for a jury to see beyond the evidence to understand whether the accused really knew about the alleged criminality.  In this case, the evidence will include items such as a $6,000 shower curtain, something that the average juror might have difficulty identifying with. 

With the recent ruling in the Booker case, many are discussing the constitutional role of juries to decide issues in a case.  But in white collar cases, one has to wonder if it always works in favor of the defense to have the jury making these decisions.


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