Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced last week that the administration opposes any changes to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, reports Main Justice. “We don’t need to lower our standards,” said Clinton. “We need to work with other countries to raise theirs.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that a lawyer is suing his former firm, accusing them of holding onto confidential documents from a competitor that could net millions of dollars in additional fees. The plaintiff, who says he was once “the number one filer of asbestos mesothelioma/lung cancer cases in the County of Los Angeles,” says he was fired after discovering the database.
In this interview conducted at the 12th Annual Legal Reform Summit last October, former U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement previewed the upcoming Supreme Court case on health care reform. Clement is the lawyer leading the challenge to the law.
He called the challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which starts today, the “800 pound gorilla in the room” for the upcoming Supreme Court term. For business, the most important aspect of the case is the individual mandate, which requires everybody to purchase insurance or pay a fine.
A recent Wall Street Journal editorial says that “the Administration says the individual mandate is necessary so that the Affordable Care Act's other regulations ‘work.’” If the court strikes down the individual mandate, it will then have to decide what other aspects of Obamacare, if any, will survive the challenge.
Clement also discussed cases that will answer questions regarding federal preemption and environmental regulation. His take on the health care challenge starts at the :55 second mark in the video above.
At the October Summit, Clement also took part in a panel discussion with Lisa Blatt from Arnold & Porter and Lily Fu Claffee from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reviewing key business decisions of Supreme Court’s 2010 term and previewing important business cases pending on the 2011 docket, including Obamacare. Video of the full panel discussion is available here.
ThomsonReuters examines the growing numbers of American class action lawyers that are looking for opportunities to export aspects of the U.S. tort system overseas, given that recent Supreme Court decisions have narrowed their options at home. “It’s pretty scary stuff,” said ILR president Lisa Rickard, who has warned European businesses of the dangers of such lawsuits.
The president of Cybex International, a fitness-machine company, writes in Forbes that American businesses are paying billions of dollars towards excessive and frivolous litigation, putting the economic recovery in jeopardy. He adds that businesses such as his, which was hit with a $66 million jury verdict in a case of misused gym equipment, are devoting more of their budgets to legal defense than to hiring and innovation.
The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post agree that a recent report detailing “intentional” prosecutorial misconduct in the Ted Stevens case underscores the need to revamp federal evidence rules. The report found that prosecutors concealed “significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens' defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government's key witness.”
The Department of Justice announced that it will meet with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of its effort to develop guidance on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Wall Street Journal reports. “It is important that the business community and the administration engage in a meaningful discussion that will produce the clearest guidance possible,” said ILR executive vice president Harold Kim.
ILR President Lisa Rickard spoke with Australian Lawyers Weekly about the danger of allowing litigation funders to operate without oversight. “There clearly needs to be something, and we have outlined a long list of safeguards that need to be considered,” she told the publication.
Today the Fairness in Disclosure of Evidence Act of 2012 was introduced in the U.S. Senate. The bill would require that federal prosecutors disclose evidence that is favorable to the defendant in the course of a criminal proceeding; outline when such evidence must be disclosed; and, provide meaningful remedies for violations of the rule.
We applaud the Senate’s efforts to promote fairness in the legal discovery process by denying prosecutors the ability to withhold potentially exculpatory evidence. Along with a diverse cross section of the legal community, we look forward to working with members to enact this bill.
In recent years, federal courts have overturned a string of high-profile convictions–including Senator Stevens’ 2008 corruption conviction and Lindsey Manufacturing’s 2011 conviction under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act–after seasoned prosecutors failed to disclose evidence favorable to the defense. Under current Supreme Court precedent, individual and business defendants may never learn that potentially exculpatory evidence exists, and remedies for disclosure failures are also limited. This bill would remedy that injustice.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the effort to amend the Lacey Act to remove foreign law violations as a basis for prosecution in the United States and limit punishment for violations under the Act to civil penalties. Rep. Paul Broun, (R-GA) introduced H.R. 4171, the Freedom from Over-Criminalization and Unjust Seizures (FOCUS) Act of 2012. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced S. 2062, the companion measure in the U.S. Senate last month.
The U.S. Chamber applauds congressional efforts to bring common sense reform to the Lacey Act, and we look forward to helping the FOCUS Act become law.
The underlying goals of the Lacey Act, including protecting endangered species and promoting stewardship of environmental resources, can and should be upheld, and federal laws ought to give prosecutors the necessary criminal enforcement tools to pursue bad actors. But defects in the Act have led to some of the worst examples of overcriminalization.
Whether the Act is used to secure jail terms against importers of Honduran lobsters because they did not package the product according to foreign law or whether it serves as the basis for repeated raids against the Gibson guitar facility for alleged violations of Indian export laws, the Act is ripe for meaningful reform.