• August 7, 2017

    Donald Trump and Corporate Greed– Vinoo Varghese Leads CLE Webinar Discussion

    In the first seven months of his presidency, Donald Trump has created a great deal of uncertainty about the trajectory of our country by undoing or attempting to undo many Obama administration policies. One policy President Trump was particularly vocal about dealt with the regulation of businesses, which he believed were being treated “unfairly.” He promised a more “business-friendly” approach. Will this promise lead to a reduction in corporate corruption prosecution after the emphasis placed on such during the Obama administration? The Knowledge Group  has asked our principal, Vinoo Varghese, to share his views in a live CLE webinar called “Trump Administration’s Priorities on Corporate Wrongdoings: What You Need to Know.” Vinoo will discuss U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ history with corporate prosecution, criminal penalties for corporate greed, provide historical context to enforcement, and consider likely trends under Trump. Tune into the webcast Tuesday, August 8th at 1:00 PM EST by clicking HERE. Registration is free for the first 30 guests with code: Varghese146562. After that, there will be a reduced registration fee of $25. For CLE credit, the price is $49.  The description for the webcast is as follows: Since the issuance of the Yates Memo in late 2015, the US Department of Justice has pursued a policy of seeking accountability from individuals who perpetrate corporate wrongdoing.  It requires that any company under investigation must deliver all proof of wrongdoing by its employees to receive credit for cooperation.  The DOJ policy thus added a heavy burden to any corporation that intends to use an internal investigation as support for leniency or a settlement.  With the avowedly business-friendly Trump administration comes uncertainty over how priorities will change under the new attorney general and reconstituted DOJ staff. In this one-hour live webcast, a panel of thought leaders brought together by The Knowledge Group will discuss the current state of Yates Memo enforcement as it affects inside counsel and internal compliance officers, and further how the preferences of the current administration may translate into refocusing or revision of DOJ policy.  Key Topics discussed will include: Yates Memo Overview Individual Accountability Disclosure Requirements Cooperation Credit Criminal/Civil Liability Enforcement Trends For more information, please visit The Knowledge Group’s website, call 1.800.578.4370, or email info@theknowledgegroup.org.  

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  • June 27, 2017

    Kevin Spacey is Clarence Darrow: What We Can Learn From the “Attorney for the Damned”

      To be an effective criminal defense counsel, an attorney must be prepared to be demanding, outrageous, irreverent, blasphemous, a rogue, a renegade, and a hated, isolated, and lonely person – few love a spokesman for the despised and the damned. These words of Clarence Darrow (1857 – 1938), America’s most famous trial lawyer, transcend time.  The challenges Darrow confronted in and outside the courtroom over 100 years ago are the same for criminal defense attorneys today. Dubbed the “attorney for the damned,” Darrow represented the innocent and the depraved, the wealthy and the penniless, all the way defending each the same because he believed that every human life was worth saving.  His efforts helped spare 102 defendants the death penalty.  Darrow pleaded with judges and jurors that only by overcoming hate with love and by employing logic and reason instead of contempt and prejudice, could we hope to progress as a society and fulfill our human potential for greatness. Darrow did not claim to be righteous or wise; he was aware of his own misgivings, believing he, like all men, were capable of doing both well and ill.  He was agnostic, believing the fallibility of human knowledge prevented the certainty of God’s existence.  That said, his firm belief in human mortality and the indivisible nature of the human spirit fueled his relentless efforts to bring civilization to a higher level and distinguished his place in American history as a formidable champion for life. Just over a week ago, our team at Varghese & Associates had the privilege of experiencing Kevin Spacey bring Darrow’s story to life in a one-man show performed in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Tennis Center in Queens.  For 90 minutes, Spacey breathtakingly recounted some of Darrow’s most renowned cases and delivered bits from the great speeches Darrow used to win over the hearts and minds of juries, judges, and the public. Spacey first walked us through Darrow’s representation of Eugene V. Debs, arrested on conspiracy charges for organizing the American Railway Union strike in 1893.  Darrow delivered a pointed, principled description of the restrictive, oppressive nature of the conspiracy statute that unfortunately still holds true today: Conspiracy from the days of tyranny in England down to the day the railroads use it as a club, has been the favorite weapon of every tyrant. It is an effort to punish the crime of thought. If there are still any citizens interested in protecting human liberty, let them study the conspiracy laws of the United States which have grown until today no one’s liberty is safe…This is not the first time that evil men—men who are themselves criminals—have conspired to use the law for the purpose of bringing righteous ones to death or jail! Darrow said Debs’ case would be an historic one, serving as a reminder that the law, simply because it is written, is not necessarily just.  Darrow believed that citizens needed to fight to preserve liberty against those who would infringe upon it. Fighting to preserve liberty is the work of a criminal defense lawyer and so is the necessity of sometimes defending […]

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  • June 13, 2017

    When the Villain Has a Badge

    In the 1980s and 1990s, Louis Scarcella was the best homicide detective in New York City.  In an era demanding law enforcement to be tough on crime, Scarcella, well-dressed and charismatic, made a name for himself by solving some of the most high-profile murders.  Scarcella charmed witnesses and juries and easily secured confessions and convictions.  Scarcella was said to be able to get things the other detectives couldn’t.  In 1990, one of these investigations led Scarcella to David Ranta, who was convicted for shooting holocaust survivor and Hasidic rabbi, Chaskel Werzberger—Mr. Ranta got a life sentence.  At the time, no one stopped to consider whether his investigations were too good to be true.  After all, the Brooklyn DA’s office needed to demonstrate they were doing something about crime and Scarcella was serving them murderer after murderer on a shiny silver platter.  With each conviction, the DA was one step closer to appeasing the public panic brought about by the crack epidemic plaguing the streets of New York.   Twenty years later, public attitude has somewhat shifted as there has been some focus on wrongful convictions and a push to reform the criminal justice system.  In response, in 2011, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office under Charles Hynes established its “Conviction Integrity Unit” (CIU) to review potentially problematic cases.  Many questions had surfaced surrounding several of Scarcella’s cases and the DA’s office announced it would review over fifty cases in which Scarcella played a chief role in the conviction.  So far, seven of these convictions have been overturned.  Scarcella manipulated the investigations to fit his narrative and send his suspects to prison, guilty or not. In 2013, David Ranta, after 23 years in prison, became the first of the Scarcella defendants freed.  The Brooklyn DA’s office concluded that Scarcella’s investigation did not add up, that Ranta did not belong behind bars, and asked a judge to release him.  Multiple convictions were then overturned.  As it turned out, Scarcella coerced or falsified confessions, and bribed or blackmailed witnesses to lie on the stand.  Some of these defendants said Scarcella beat them until they signed a confession, others that he manufactured it altogether.  Witnesses reported they were threatened with perjury, jail, and even losing their children, if they did not say what Scarcella told them to say.  Notably, Scarcella also relied on the testimony of one crack-riddled prostitute, Teresa Gomez, as his star witness in at least four different murder trials. Mr. Ranta was convicted despite a lack of physical evidence connecting him to the murder; his conviction stemmed instead from witness accounts and a confession, all of which since appear to have been coerced or plainly falsified by Scarcella.  An eyewitness testified that he was told by a detective—Scarcella was the lead detective on the case—to pick the man with “the big nose” out of a lineup, with Ranta being the only one fitting that description.  Two other witnesses admitted to explicitly lying in exchange for clemency in their own unrelated cases, and said that Scarcella had even accommodated them by having them leave jail to smoke crack and have sex with prostitutes in exchange for their testimony.  Mr. Ranta himself steadfastly maintained that Scarcella […]

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