Monday, July 29, 2013

Should corporations be permitted to plead guilty?

Doug Berman has an interesting post over at the Sentencing Law & Policy Blog regarding a recent case from Judge Young of the District Court of Massachusetts.  According to Berman, the Judge's opinion in United States v. Orthofix, No. 12-10169 (D. Mass. July 26, 2013), indicates the Judge may not believe the public interest is served by corporate plea deals.

From the opinion:
This memorandum sets out the Court’s reasons for rejecting each of the (C) pleas from these two corporate criminal defendants. In many ways, the Court’s decision to reject Orthofix’s (C) plea stands as the better subject for elucidation of the Court’s principled objection toward accepting (C) pleas from corporate criminals. This is because, in contrast with the wholly unsatisfactory settlement proffered by APTx, see APTx’s Plea Hr’g 18:13 (“[T]his is a strikingly below guidelines sentence . . . .”), Orthofix’s plea was tendered as part of what was, substantially, “a fair and appropriate settlement,” Tr. Arraignment, Plea & Sentencing (“Orthofix’s Sentencing”) 25:8, Dec. 14, 2012, No. 12-10169-WGY, ECF No. 39.

This memorandum articulates the Court’s view of the unusually complex considerations posed by the sentencing of corporate criminals and lays out the Court’s interpretation of the duties it must discharge, with prudence and circumspection, in performing its sentencing function. The Court concludes that, in light of these considerations, it would be rare indeed for a corporate criminal to persuade this Court that its guilty plea is an appropriate candidate for acceptance under the fetters of Rule 11(c)(1)(C).
The entire opinion is available here.

Doug Berman's post is available here.

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