Showing posts from July, 2014

Dallas County District Attorney's Office - First-of-its-Kind Exoneration in US

The Dallas County District Attorney's Office has issued a press release regarding a new exoneration. According to the DA's Office, this is a first-of-its-kind exoneration because it results from systematic DNA testing, even though the soon-to-be exoneree was not actively proclaiming his innocence or requesting DNA testing. It is also important to note for readers of this blog that the exoneree pleaded guilty to the charged offense (rape) even though he was in fact innocent. A 57-year old Dallas man falsely convicted of sexual assault will be exonerated as a result of systematic DNA testing by a district attorney’s office, even though he was not actively proclaiming his innocence or requesting DNA testing. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, this is the first time in the United States an exoneration of this nature has occurred. Mr. Michael Phillips, an African-American, served 12 years in prison after pleading guilty in 1990 for raping a 16-year-old Caucasi

United States v. Harden - New 7th Circuit Case re Magistrate's Role in Accepting Felony Plea of Guilty

An interesting new case from the 7th Circuit.  In United Sates v. Harden  (7th Cir. July 14, 2014), the court examined whether a magistrate judge could properly accept a plea of guilty from a defendant charged with a felony.  From the opinion: Pursuant to a written plea agreement, Defendant-Appellant Stacy Lee Harden pled guilty to possession with the intent to distribute cocaine.  With Harden's consent, the district court instructed a magistrate judge to conduct a Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 plea colloquy under a local rule allowing for magistrate judges to accept felony guilty pleas.  The magistrate judge accepted Harden's guilty plea, and the district court then conducted a sentencing hearing and imposed sentence.  Harden now appeals the magistrate judge's acceptance of his guilty plea, arguing that the magistrate judge's acceptance of a felony guilty plea, instead of preparing a report and recommendation to the district court, was a violation of the Fede

Citigroup Agrees to Pay $7 Billion Settlement

Citigroup has agreed to pay $7 billion related to allegations that it packaged bad mortgages during the pre-financial crisis period.  $4 billion of the payment will be penalties for the alleged conduct.  $2.5 billion will be used in mortgage modifications and related relief for homeowners.  The remaining $500 million will be distributed between five states and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The settlement avoids further civil litigation by the Department of Justice.  According to CNN, Attorney General Eric Holder stated, "Under the terms of this settlement, the bank has admitted to its misdeeds in great detail.  The bank's activities shattered the livelihoods throughout the country."  He went on to state, "They contributed mightily to the financial crisis that devastated our economy in 2008." The entire CNN article regarding the settlement is available here .

Regulatory Overcriminalization and Plea Bargaining - Congressional Testimony Update

In November 2013, I testified before the United States House of Representatives' Committee on the Judiciary Over-Criminalization Task Force. During my testimony, I examined the phenomenon of over-criminalization, particularly in the regulatory area, and offered several recommended solutions for Congressional adoption. First, I recommended the adoption of a default rule for mens rea . Second, I recommended the adoption of a default rule applying mens rea to all material elements of an offense. Third, I recommended the codification of the Rule of Lenity. Finally, along with some additional recommendations for consideration, I discussed the role of plea bargaining in the U.S. criminal justice system and encouraged the Task Force to more closely examine this issue in the future. My written testimony from that hearing is now available on SSRN for free download by clicking here . A previous post regarding my testimony is available by clicking  here .

BNP Paribas Agrees to Nearly $9 Billion Penalty

BNP Paribas, a French bank, has pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to breaching U.S. sanctions. Under the terms of the deal, it is reported that BNP Paribas will pay almost $9 billion in penalties. From CNN: The settlement concludes a long-running criminal investigation into allegations that BNP Paribas (BNPQF) violated U.S. money laundering laws by helping clients dodge sanctions on Iran, Sudan and other countries.   The deal between the bank and prosecutors had been expected for months.      Shares in the bank edged higher Monday in Paris, having fallen more than 12% so far this year in anticipation.   In an agreement with the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, the bank pleaded guilty to falsifying business records and conspiracy in Manhattan Supreme Court.    It is expected to plead guilty for violating money laundering laws in federal court with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara next week.The bank also agreed to a sanction by the New York department of financial se