• November 16, 2017

    Terrorists Should Be Read Their Miranda Rights, Too

    Terrorists who commit crimes on American soil are not foreign soldiers.  To treat them as soldiers is to dignify them in a way they don’t deserve—as part of something larger—a nation state at war with American ideals and America itself.  Instead, they are criminals deserving the same and no more respect than that afforded by the Constitution.  To treat them as soldiers reinforces the false notion that Islam and America are at war, perpetuates rifts that plague our society, and further incentivizes radicals.  We must not buy into the rhetoric of a global religious war—us against them—and sacrifice the very principles and ideals that serve as the very foundation of our nation—including the right to remain silent and the right to counsel in a criminal case.  If we abandon these—our values, our commitment to freedom and fairness—then we might as well give up and let these terrorists win. In the wake of the TriBeCa car attack on October 31st, Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, along with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, called for Sayfullo Saipov to be labeled and held as an “enemy combatant.”  To their disappointment the Trump administration didn’t take such action and the Acting U.S. Attorney in Manhattan instead formally charged Saipov under federal criminal law.  When someone is held as an enemy combatant, he is not afforded the same rights as everyone else charged under the federal criminal code, and he may never be formally charged and Mirandized.  Advocates of enemy combatant labeling believe that reading a suspected terrorist Miranda rights, and have him potentially invoke his right to an attorney and remain silent, will impede the United States from properly interrogating him and gathering beneficial information on others.  While there is always the risk of lawyering up, there is  strong evidence to suggest that torture doesn’t work as an interrogation tool. The Bush Administration, after 9/11, held suspected terrorists as enemy combatants as part of the “war on terror” against al Qaeda.  With this policy, President Bush stretched the definition of “war” and manipulated it to suit a dubious agenda that included torture and having White House lawyers attempt to justify it, as well as conducting warrantless searches on Americans, despite having the opportunity to use a secret court, FISA, set up specifically for obtaining warrants without opposition.  By labeling the hostility with al Qaeda as a “war” within the larger context of the “War on Terror,” Bush then claimed that domestic criminal law would not suffice for proper prosecution of al Qaeda’s agents, aka “terrorists.”  President Bush also claimed that the “war” with al Qaeda was a special type of war and therefore adherence to the rules set by the Geneva Convention of 1949, which contain rules limiting the barbarity of war, was unnecessary. The legality of holding suspected terrorists claiming ISIS affiliation, like Saipov, as “enemy combatants” is further questionable because ISIS, unlike al Qaeda, isn’t covered by the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force, which Congress authorized to be carried out exclusively against those involved with the 9/11 attacks and any “associated forces.”  ISIS was not associated with al-Qaeda and had no part in the 9/11 attack, as it didn’t exist in 2001.  The policy of holding suspected terrorists as enemy combatants, however, […]

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  • 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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