Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Milberg Weiss Defends Itself

Perhaps taking a cue from Martha Stewart and some other high profile defendants, Milberg Weiss has created a web site regarding its indictment this week. The site, www.milbergweissjustice.com opens with

Now, the Justice Department charges the firm with an indictment that is unjust, misguided, and misinformed. We dedicate this website to communicating the truth about their accusations and about how this unjust investigation only helps corrupt corporations escape accountability.

There is also a statement, in print and video, from Mel Weiss. The statement offers a peek into the negotiations leading up to the indictment, which should trouble most businessmen, and most attorneys:

The government's insistence that the firm waive attorney-client privileges as a condition to avoiding indictment is in derogation of one of the bedrock principles of American law and extended to parties the firm did not control. Governmental insistence on such broad waivers has been criticized by the American Bar Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and is currently being reviewed by Congress. The prosecutors also insisted that the firm make unfounded statements accusing its own partners of crimes and otherwise become an agent for the government. Unfortunately, the prosecutors insisted on indicting the firm unless it made these impossible concessions.

Increasingly we are seeing this demand to waive the attorney client privilege. While I obviously know nothing about the events that lead to the indictment in this case, Mr. Weiss' prepared statement certainly raises concerns regarding the prosecutor's conduct in the pre-indictment phase of this proceeding.

The White Collar Crime Professor Blog weighs in here. The Criminal Law Professor Blog links to the American Bar Association article that says that this tactic is not fair.
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