Criminal defense heroes come in all types. There is of course the classic dramatic trial lawyer who can bring any witness to their knees with a masterful cross. Then there is the silent but deadly trial lawyer who the opponent underestimates at every turn, but in fact is nothing short of a jury whisperer. But the most unrecognized heroes among us are the appellate lawyers who yield the power to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. And this week one of those unsung heroines is Alexandra Shapiro.
She just won a new trial for former Deutsche Bank broker David Parse, who was convicted of tax fraud relating to a tax shelter scheme. The reversal was based on egregious juror misconduct which deprived the defendant of a fair and impartial jury. If that wasn’t enough, Alexandra Shapiro was also one of the architects behind the Unites States v. Newman appeal which has served as a game changer for insider trader prosecutions. The Second Circuit reversed and directed acquittals for both Todd Newman and Anthony Chiasson on the grounds that an insider trading offense requires that the Government prove that the tippee knew that the insider disclosed material nonpublic information in exchange for personal benefit. The Court found that the Government lacked proof on both fronts. Shapiro was involved in representing defendant Chiasson. And at the end of 2012, she obtained a reversal of the conviction of a tax lawyer and former partner of Ernst & Young arising from his work on the firm’s tax shelter practice. The Court found there was a lack of evidence to support the conviction of her client, Richard Shapiro.
Simply review the list of appellate victories on the bio section of her website and you will see that Alexandra Shapiro has been involved in the reversal of some of this country’s largest white collar prosecutions. So today in the wake of a huge victory for Alexandra Shapiro and her client I think it is time that those of us in the trial trenches pay some respect to the true appellate heroines amongst us, who honestly don’t get the glory they deserve. Let’s face it, we all agree there is nothing like walking a client out a courtroom after a Not Guilty verdict but in truth I think it must pale in many ways to unlocking the jail cell door for a convicted client. That is truly the stuff of heroes!