Friday, October 5, 2018

FORMER SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT SENTENCED

[Photo of Lee Myung-bak from wikipedia]

    As a former federal prosecutor in Augusta, Georgia, I prosecuted a number of public corruption cases, including one against the State of Georgia's former Senate majority leader.  Of course, public corruption cases are not restricted to the United States.

    According to various news sources, former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, (2008-2013), was sentenced today to serve 15 years in prison on bribery and embezzlement charges.



Wednesday, August 22, 2018

MANAFORT FOUND GUILTY ON EIGHT COUNTS

[Photo from wikipedia]

     As you have probably heard by now, former Trump campaign chairman and businessman, Paul Manafort, was convicted by a jury in federal court yesterday on eight counts of tax and bank fraud. The jury was reportedly unable to reach a verdict on the ten remaining charges. Sentencing will be at a later time.  Manafort also still faces other federal charges in the D.C. district.

As a practical matter, being convicted on even one count, in federal court, which utilizes the federal sentencing guidelines, is sufficient for a federal judge to consider all relevant conduct in imposing sentence. And there is no parole federally.
    

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

CLOSING ARGUMENTS IN MANAFORT TRIAL: HOW LONG IS TOO LONG?

[Photo from wikipedia]

Today, closing arguments began in the criminal trial of former Trump campaign coordinator Paul Manafort.  According to various news reports, both sides asked the Judge for up to two hours for closing arguments.  Judge T.S. Ellis reportedly voiced skepticism about the lawyers being able to keep the jury's attention for that long!

What do you think? Should closing arguments be kept under an hour? Are jurors less attentive than they were one hundred years ago, when closing arguments often lasted for hours?

As a former federal prosecutor in Augusta, Georgia, I handled a few major complex fraud and public corruption cases in which my closing argument reached 90 minutes in length. However, I always tried to remember that if you talk too long, you will lose your jury!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

OPENING STATEMENTS IN MANAFORT JURY TRIAL

[DOJ Seal from wikipedia]

A lot has been written about the ongoing federal criminal jury trial of Paul Manafort.  Today, I don't intend to discuss the merits of the Mueller team's case against the former campaign coordinator of President Trump.  Instead, I want to focus on the government prosecutor's manner of making his opening statement.  He read it!

In particular, according to news reports, the prosecutor read his entire opening statement to the jury.  Reading an opening statement or a closing argument is a pet peeve of mine!  In my opinion, no trial lawyer should ever READ an opening statement!  Instead, I believe a good trial lawyer will be so prepared that he or she will be able to speak, without reading, their statement or argument.  Nobody likes to be read to.  Also, by speaking, instead of reading, a trial lawyer is better able to both make eye contact with jurors and to display a greater degree of confidence and preparedness!

As a former federal prosecutor in Augusta, Georgia for over twenty years, I prosecuted and saw countless federal criminal trials.  In my opinion, the best lawyers never read their openings or closings!

I am sure the government's attorney in this case is a fine lawyer!  But in my opinion, opening statements should be spoken but NOT read!

What do you think?

Monday, July 30, 2018

PROFFERS IN FEDERAL CRIMINAL CASES

[Photo from Wikipedia]

     A proffer is a method often employed by criminal defense attorneys and federal prosecutors to meet and discuss how a defendant could help the government in its investigation, without risking further incrimination.  In short, a proffer involves making an "off the record" offer of proof, in order to help the parties potentially progress further toward a negotiated settlement of some sort.  In some criminal cases, the defendant may simply get a better plea bargain.  In other cases, he or she may obtain immunity from prosecution.

     It is important that a defendant retain a defense lawyer who is knowledgeable about proffers and how cases are made in the federal criminal courts.  Experience counts!  It is also important that your defense attorney should obtain a written proffer letter agreement which clearly sets forth that any proffer is off the record.

     Richard H. Goolsby, Sr., of the Goolsby Law Firm LLC, is Augusta, Georgia's only former twenty year federal prosecutor.  Please call us at (706) 863-5281 for a free initial consultation.

Monday, June 4, 2018

DOJ TO ADD 300 NEW FEDERAL PROSECUTORS

[D.O.J seal depiction from wikipedia]

     According to various news reports, the United States Department of Justice has announced today that approximately 300 new assistant U.S. attorneys will be hired around the country to help meet the President's crime-fighting agenda.
     The DOJ said it will add 190 violent crime prosecutors, 86 civil enforcement prosecutors, and 35 immigration prosecutors.
     As a former A.U.S.A. for more than 20 years in Augusta, Georgia, I can attest to the good work generally done by the DOJ in the field.
     Here's hoping that the addition of these prosecutors will help combat crime on the federal level.

Friday, May 11, 2018

WHITE COLLAR CRIME DEFINED

[Photo of Sociologist Edwin Sutherland from wikipedia]

In 1939, famous sociologist Edwin Sutherland defined white collar crime as crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.

This definition has been criticized by many other the years since then.  For example, as a part-time criminal justice professor, I have often taken issue with Sutherland's definition because it requires that the crime must have been committed by a person of "high social status" in order to be classified as white collar crime.  In my opinion, even an embezzlement committed by a low level bank teller would constitute white collar crime.

Do you agree? What is your opinion about Sutherland's definition of white collar crime?