FedSoc Blog

The Overcriminalization of the Practice of Law?


by Publius
Posted October 08, 2012, 1:51 PM

At Bench Memos, Ammon Simon calls attention to a Wall Street Journal story on complaints about the overcriminalization of the practice of law.  According to that article:

Attorneys are increasingly finding themselves on the wrong end of the legal system, targeted by lawsuits and, in some cases, even by prosecutors.

Take Lauren Stevens, a former vice president and associate general counsel for GlaxoSmithKline PLC who was indicted in 2010 on four counts of making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration. The charges stemmed from an investigation into whether the company had improperly promoted the antidepressant Wellbutrin for weight loss—an off-label use not approved by the FDA.

Ms. Stevens was ultimately acquitted last year by a Maryland federal judge who said she “never should have been prosecuted.”  The decision was considered a blow to government efforts to pin blame for alleged corporate wrongdoing on individuals. But the case rattled a number of in-house lawyers, and showed how documents that many attorneys assume are confidential could wind up in court.

Simon adds:

And while I am on the topic of over-criminalization, I also recommend the Journal’s interesting profile on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, “From Watergate to Today, How the FCPA Became So Feared.”

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