The most compelling story in the criminal defense field this year is without question the President’s continued commitment to consider and grant clemency petitions. Obama recently commuted another 95 sentences, and there are still over 9000 clemency petitions pending. I am volunteering to review clemency petitions for the Clemency Project, and if you haven’t volunteered your time yet, I strongly encourage you to step up and participate in this monumental effort. I never thought we would see the day where a politician would be openly discussing the fact that our system was broken, let alone taking steps to right the wrongs of the past. Here are some of the other big stories in the criminal defense community from 2015:
- Of course the Yates memo has been the talk of the criminal defense bar since its announcement in September. And a lot has been written about the new policy encouraging that employees get thrown under the bus in addition to the plethora of problems that the policy creates.
- The Supreme Court denying certiorari in Newman set off a ripple effect in the white collar criminal landscape. This setback caused a dramatic halt to the insider trader freight train that had been barreling out of the U.S. Attorneys office for years. A number of related prosecutions were dropped or reversed on appeal.
- The hung jury and partial acquittals in the Dewey & LeBouef trial that was by any account a defense win. The prosecutors have announced that they intend to retry some of the defendants but have offered significantly lower plea deals. The moral of the story….don’t be afraid to try our cases.
- Challenges to the SEC’s filing of cases in administrative court based on the attack of the appointment process for administrative judge. Requiring the SEC to file in federal court at least levels the playing field.
- Signs of what’s to come in the white collar criminal arena through spoofing prosecutions and other market manipulation cases such as a the Libor case.