Thursday, May 15, 2008

More on Willbros Deferred Prosecution Agreement

Looking at the deferred prosecution agreement signed in the Willbros matter, two things are interesting.  First is the treatment of attorney-client privileged materials and the second is the document related to the appointment of an internal monitor.

With respect to attorney client privileged material, the deferred prosecution agreement allows the government to obtain the items and penalizes the company for non-compliance. The company can give notice to the DOJ if they wish to withhold access to "information, documents, records, facilities and/or employees based upon an assertion of a valid claim of attorney-client privilege or application of the attorney work-product doctrine."  But "[i]n the event that WGI and WII withhold access to the information, documents, records, facilities and/or employees of WGI and WII, the Department may consider this fact in determining whether WGI and WII have fully cooperated with the Department."  Is this a determination that DOJ should have control over, and should they be allowed to obtain this attorney-client privilege material as part of a deferred prosecution agreement?  And is it proper to allow one party to a contract the ability to determine if there is compliance with a term within the contract?

The Deferred Prosecution Agreement -  Download willbros_deferred_agreement.pdf

The monitor gets selected by Willbros.  It is subject to approval by the DOJ.  This may avoid situations of a DOJ appointment of a friend or former political boss.  But is this going to the other extreme by allowing the company the right to chose the person who will provide oversight?  Wouldn't a better approach be to have an impartial member of the judiciary making these decisions?

The Monitor Attachment - Download attachment_d_independent_corporate_monitor.pdf

(esp) (w/ thanks to Librarian Whitney Curtis)

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