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Too Rich To Bail? - 02.20.2019
Recently, a federal judge in Brooklyn questioned whether the Bail Reform Act permits “disparate treatment based on wealth,” and denied bail to a high-net worth defendant who proposed a package that included home detention secured by privately-funded guards. In United States v. Boustani, U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz II rejected the bail package proposed by Jean Boustani, an international businessman at the center of a $2 billion alleged fraud, bribery, and money laundering scheme that the government claims caused “staggering” losses to foreign and American investors and “devastated” the economy of Mozambique. In addition to what courts have called the “private prison” concept, Boustani’s proposed bail package included a $20 million personal recognizance bond secured by $1 million cash, and the surrender of travel documents by Boustani and his wife. [...]
Sanctions Stick Even After Settlement - 02.19.2019
An order imposing sanctions catches the attention of litigants, sometimes even encouraging the parties to settle. When they do, the sanctioned party often will seek to have the sanctions award vacated as part of the settlement. Increasingly, judges are resistant to vacating sanctions orders. In this article, we discuss Southern District Judge Victor Marrero’s recent decision in Rogue Wave Software v. BTI Systems, which highlights the trend away from courts vacating sanctions orders just because the parties’ settlement agreement provides for it, and concludes that going forward, the more egregious the conduct leading to a sanctions order, the less likely it is that a court will vacate it.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a trial lawyer in possession of limited information about prospective jurors, may exercise strikes based on a juror’s employment status. Criminal prosecutors may strike jurors who are unemployed, in the belief that such jurors may be less socially connected, less accustomed to following rules, less experienced in making serious decisions (such as voting for conviction), and thereby potentially biased against the government and in favor of the defendant. Criminal defense lawyers, meanwhile, may strike jurors who are employed, for the inverse reasons. And in civil cases, as one commentator wrote, “[j]ury consultants consistently report that,” among other things, “long-term, unemployed people . . . tend to favor the plaintiff’s position.” Employment status can be an entirely reasonable reason for a trial lawyer to strike a prospective juror. At the same time, however, employment status can at times be misused by trial lawyers as a pretext to strike a juror when the real reason is the juror’s membership in a so-called cognizable group, such as a racial minority. In order to distinguish between a permissible and impermissible strike, judges should engage in extraordinarily careful fact-finding and analysis, as the stakes for both the lawyers and the parties run high. [...]
White-Collar Enforcement After Two Years of Trump - 02.14.2019
The halfway point of President Trump’s term offers an opportunity to examine and assess the impact of his administration on business-related prosecutions. In this article, we discuss the government’s shift in enforcement priorities, which focus on violent crimes, opioid cases, and most notably, immigration violations. We also highlight the decline not only in the number of traditional white-collar cases brought, but also in the amounts of fines and penalties imposed. Despite these numbers, however, the Trump Justice Department has remained aggressive and creative in its pursuit of individual wrongdoers in certain business-related areas, particularly in international corruption and foreign bribery.
The Harmless Error Standard on a Silver Platter - 01.23.2019
In United States v. Stewart, in a 2-1 decision, the Second Circuit vacated defendant Sean Stewart’s insider-trading conviction, holding that the district court erroneously excluded a key piece of impeachment evidence and that this error could not be excused as harmless. Although the opinion focused on the admissibility of evidence that impeaches hearsay statements, the majority’s defense-friendly application of the harmless error standard could have a greater impact in future criminal appeals. [...]
Morvillo Abramowitz has been shortlisted by Benchmark Litigation as a White Collar Crime/Enforcement/Investigations Firm of the Year. Firms who were recognized for this honor have been chosen based on extensive research conducted throughout 2018. All selected firms will be announced at a formal ceremony on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at the Essex House in New York.
To view the nominees, please click here.
NEW YORK, January 23, 2019 – Morvillo Abramowitz has been shortlisted by Benchmark Litigation as a White Collar Crime/Enforcement/Investigations Firm of the Year. Firms who were recognized for this honor have been chosen based on extensive research conducted throughout 2018. All selected firms will be announced at a formal ceremony on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at the Essex House in New York.
To view the nominees, please click here.
FBAR Penalties: Relief for Taxpayers? - 01.17.2019
By statute, taxpayers who fail to disclose accounts on a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account, commonly referred to as an FBAR, are subject to a maximum penalty of up to 50% of the funds in the undisclosed accounts. However, two recent district court opinions have held that the applicable regulations cap the FBAR penalty at $100,000 per undisclosed account. In this article, we analyze four recent cases that have split on the maximum permissible FBAR penalty and the implications of this debate.
The Current State of the IRS - 01.15.2019
Reminder Law Clerk Reception 2019 - 01.11.2019
On January 11, 2019, Morvillo Abramowitz partner Robert J. Anello was quoted in The American Lawyer in an article entitled, “Law Firms Face 'Uncharted Waters' as Shutdown Grinds Some Practices to a Halt.” The article discusses the legal industry's first quarter financial results, which may see a dent as court appearances and deals fall prey to political gridlock. To read more on this topic and review Bob’s comments, please click here.
In cases of misconduct by the government, federal law strongly favors narrowly tailored remedies in criminal cases. The ultimate sanction, dismissal of an indictment, is reserved for the most extreme wrongdoing. In this article, we discuss the Second Circuit’s recent decision in United States v. Walters, which affirmed an insider trading conviction notwithstanding undisputed, improper leaks to news reporters by an FBI agent prior to indictment.
According to various media reports, President Trump’s Christmas list may include the gift of a pardon to his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. Many critics claim that the mere suggestion of a pardon to Manafort amounts to an obstruction of justice. The law on whether and when the nation’s chief law enforcer can be said to engage in obstruction is unsettled, although what is clear is that the president’s constitutional authority is not limitless. Other presidents have exercised their absolute power to pardon in questionable ways, but the question on everyone’s mind lately is whether Trump’s dangle of a pardon to Manafort, as distinguished from the act of pardoning, may constitute an obstructionist act. [...]