The Proper Treatment of Fraud Victims in Federal White Collar Prosecutions

May 15, 2019  |  The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

In white collar cases, federal prosecutors around the country reflexively file—and district courts routinely grant—motions seeking to bar defense counsel from making arguments, introducing evidence, or pursuing cross-examination regarding a fraud victim’s carelessness in dealing with the defendant. Any such argument or evidence, prosecutors generally argue, should be precluded as irrelevant, under Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, on the ground that a victim’s lack of caution and diligence is no defense to fraud. Although these motions find support in well-established precedent, there are several reasons why courts should view them with a bit of skepticism, and should give defense counsel more latitude in exploring, particularly through cross-examination, the behavior of fraud victims. [...]

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