Thursday, February 24, 2005
Petitioner Arthur Andersen filed its Brief in the United States Supreme Court and without doubt this will be an interesting case. The Summary of the Argument states:
"It is plain as day that the Government did not charge Andersen with obstruction of justice for discarding documents during the relevant time period because no official proceeding of the SEC was pending. . . ."
A paragraph later we see:
"The United States attempted to evade that settled law by instead charging Andersen with 'witness ampering' on the remarkable theory that although it was perfectly lawful for Andersen to have a document retention policy that preserved only the final audit work papers, and perfectly lawful for Andersen's employees and professionals to follow that policy, it was somehow a serious felony for Andersen's in-house attorney and supervisors to remind its employees of the policy."
The legal arguments within this brief cover issues regarding the word "corruptly," whether the instruction on the "requisite nexus to an official proceeding," was proper, and the Rule of Lenity. But a message is also being sent - how far can the Government go... and did they go too far this time?
The Brief. Download andersen_merits_opening_brief.PDF