Showing posts from June, 2008

Refusing to Plea Bargain - The Patsy Kelly Jarrett Story

The Washington Post Magazine has a fascinating story posted regarding the Patsy Kelly Jarret murder case and conviction. The introduction to the piece discusses the role of plea bargaining in the case and the consequences of refusing to deal in hopes of vindication. The notion of defendants pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit has been an area of discomfort for the criminal justice system since plea bargaining's rise to prominence. This article reminds us again of the significant consequences of refusing to accept a plea offer and the hard decisions faced by those who must choose between life and truth. Kelly's case, my first, would end up following me for the next 25 years. Kelly was convicted based on nothing more than the memories of that one eyewitness, who saw the driver of the car fleetingly and, when first questioned, couldn't even say whether the person had been a man or a woman. It remains the most haunting miscarriage of justice I have ever encountered.

Broadcom Co-Founder Pleads Guilty

Henry Samueli , the co-founder of Broadcom and a technology billionaire, pleaded guilty in Santa Ana, California, yesterday to a single felony charge of lying to the SEC regarding an alleged scheme to manipulate stock options. Under the agreement, the government will recommend five years' probation and $12.2 million in fines and penalties. Sentencing is scheduled for August 18, 2008. This is yet another example of white collar defendants finding themselves charged for conduct that occurred after the original event under investigation. In the LA Times story below, Professor John Coffee of Columbia University commented, "Most of these high-powered people who rise to that level of stature have perfected their ability to talk their way out of problems. . . That's a fatal mistake when you're dealing with the government. You've got to shut up." See the LA Times story here:,0,3244548.story See the Samueli Pl

A Plea Bargain in Return for Information on the Centuries-Old Secrecy of the Swiss Banking System

Bradley Birkenfeld, a former UBS AG banker, pleaded guilty in Florida federal court yesterday. He was indicted in May for allegedly assisting a billionaire real estate client evade taxes on $200 million held in Swiss and Lichtenstein bank accounts. The most interesting aspect of this case is that federal prosecutors are expected to seek a delay in sentencing for Birkenfeld while they "try to use Birkenfeld's knowledge to pierce the centuries-old secrecy for which UBS and other Swiss banks are known." Could this be the start of a larger investigation by federal authorities into Swiss banking?

Notable Plea Bargain - Naomi Campbell

It has been reported that British supermodel Naomi Campbell has accepted a plea agreement in London court. Campbell, who originally faced six charges relating to an altercation over lost luggage on a plane at London's Heathrow airport, pleaded guilty on friday to four charges. Her sentence is as of yet unknown. See an article on the plea agreement here:

Deal or No Deal - The Bear Stearns Duo

A big indictment was handed down yesterday in the Bear Stearns matter against former hedge fund managers Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin. The major issue in the case is whether they misled investors about the strength and performance of two portfolios that eventually collapsed. For purposes of The Plea Bargaining Blog , we have to ask the inevitable question - Will they take a plea deal or risk going to trial in a well publicized financial crimes case? While initial reports regarding the indictment indicated the case was weak, the actual indictment contains a wealth of information regarding specific conduct the government will offer to demonstrate the fund managers purposefully mislead investors. With what appears to be a strong case for the U.S. Attorney's Office, what could Cioffi and Tannin offer in return for the government's leniency? The natural answer in these types of cases is typically the ability to use the testimony of the bargaining defendant against someone higher

Will Sir Mark Thatcher’s Plea Bargain in South Africa Stand?

It has been reported that a mercenary involved in the plot to overthrow the President of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea in 2004 has implicated Sir Mark Thatcher, son of the former British Prime Minister, as one of five individuals in charge of the operation. This testimony is in sharp contrast to the assertions of Sir Thatcher, who entered a plea agreement with South African prosecutors in 2005 after claiming his only involvement in the matter was providing funds to purchase what he believed to be an air ambulance. In return for his plea, Sir Thatcher received a heavy fine and a four-year suspended sentence. While I have not seen the agreement that was used in Sir Thatcher’s plea bargain, such agreements typically include a clause dissolving the bargain if it is later determined that the individual provided false information. As such, it is unclear whether this new information about Sir Thatcher’s role in the attempted coup will jeopardize the plea agreement and mean he will be require

New Article - Plea Bargaining's Survival: Financial Crimes Plea Bargaining, a Continued Triumph in a Post-Enron World

Welcome to The Plea Bargaining Blog . My hope is that this blog will serve as a resource for scholarship, articles and news about plea bargaining in the United States and around the world. For my first posting, I would like to provide information about my new article regarding plea bargaining in financial crimes cases after the collapse of Enron.  The article, entitled "Plea Bargaining's Survival: Financial Crimes Plea Bargaining, a Continued Triumph in a Post-Enron World," appears in the Oklahoma Law Review , Vol. 60, No. 3 (Fall 2007).   The article examines the war on financial crimes that began after the collapse of Enron in 2001. Although many believed that the reforms implemented following this scandal led to greater prosecutorial focus on financial crimes and longer prison sentences, an analysis of data from 1995 through 2006 reveals that little has actually changed. The statistics demonstrate that the government's focus on financial crimes has not increased an