Thursday, May 19, 2011

School Boards And Rigid Zero Tolerance Policies Strike Again!

[Photo from]
Today, I feel the need to climb back up on the soapbox and protest against school systems' "zero tolerance policies!"  Following the tragedy at Columbine, many school boards around the country have, in my opinion, over-reacted by enacting overly rigid zero tolerance policies concerning situations in which students bring toy guns to school.  Simply put, if the kid violates the policy, by bringing any toy weapon to school, (no matter how small), he or she gets zapped -- i.e. suspended and/or prosecuted.  No room for discretion, (or common sense), is allowed.  In my opinion, such lame-brained policies have led to some absurd results.

For example, have you read the news reports this week about the 9 year old Palmer, Massachusetts elementary school boy who was referred to juvenile court after taking a plastic gun on a school bus?  The kid reportedly forgot the toy was in his jacket pocket!  But school officials, in my opinion, exercised poor judgment, and discarded their discretion and common sense, by making a criminal case out of it! 

But the list of such absurd cases goes on and on!  For example, another 9 year old boy in New York recently faced suspension, according to various reports, simply because he took a toy policeman holding a two-inch gun to school.  And I will bet you all will also remember the reported case of the little girl who got into trouble simply because she had a plastic butter knife in her lunch box!

This is outrageous!  Look, as a former state and federal prosecutor, I realize that, generally, the criminal laws must be enforced.  And I also know that we cannot afford to have kids taking dangerous weapons to school.  But, in my opinion, these cases demonstrate that zero tolerance policies are not the right answer!  Instead, school systems should use a little common sense by affording school officials more leeway to simply tell a kid, "Hey, hand me that toy.  You can pick it up after school.  Don't bring it back here again." 

Now, I feel better!  I can climb down from my soapbox!  What do you think?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Goolsby Law Firm "Brag Board"

[Goolsby Law Firm]
I hope you don't mind if I, as a proud father, boast a little bit again today about my four children! As you may know, currently, I practice law in Augusta, Georgia with my oldest son, Richard H. Goolsby, Jr. At the Goolsby Law Firm, LLC, we handle divorces, child custody, step parent adoptions, and many other types of family law matters, along with personal injury cases, and other general litigation. In addition, because I am a former federal and state prosecutor, we also handle criminal defense in federal and state courts. (I am the only former 20 year federal prosecutor in Augusta, Georgia). In other words, the former prosecutor is now a criminal defense attorney and divorce lawyer!

But that's enough about me! Today, I want to brag about the fact that my third son just graduated, summa cum laude, from the University of Georgia. Also, he has been accepted and will begin his first year of law school at UGA in the fall. In addition, my second son has just completed his second year of law school at another outstanding Georgia law school, at Mercer University. Both my second and third sons plan to join my oldest son and me at the Goolsby Law Firm when they have completed their legal studies! We will truly be a family law firm! Finally, we are also very proud of our daughter/sister who is graduating this week from high school. She is arguably the wisest member of our family because she is our only child/sibling who does not want to become a lawyer!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hedge Fund Manager Raj Rajaratnam Convicted of Insider Trading Charges

[Photo from The Hindu]
New York federal prosecutors are no doubt still running their victory laps this evening after a United States district court jury reportedly returned guilty verdicts today on 14 counts involving insider trading against Raj Rajaratnam, a multi-millionaire hedge fund manager.  According to various news reports, the government relied heavily on wiretap evidence, including conversations in which Rajaratnam allegedly bragged to others about insider trading, in order to obtain the convictions on security fraud and conspiracy charges. 

Insider trading generally involves buying or selling stock in publicly held companies while benefitting from "inside" tips or information about the stock's value which is unavailable to the public.  You might recall that the Martha Stewart investigation began based upon allegations of insider trading.  According to the U. S. Department of Justice, this is supposedly the largest insider trading case involving a hedge fund in U.S. history. 

As a former federal prosecutor, I can tell you that these government prosecutors were lucky to have wiretap evidence in this case. This evidence undoubtedly turned a complex white collar crime case into something more easily digested by a jury.  No doubt Rajaratnam's criminal defense attorneys will appeal his convictions.  Also, sentencing will reportedly be held at a later date.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Internet Fraud: More Scams Than Quaker's Got Oats!

[Photo from]
No one needs to educate you about the fact that the internet is overrun with countless con artists whose sole desire is to lure your money away from you with countless types of fraudulent schemes!  You already know that!  Indeed, there are more investment fraud scams, telemarketing schemes, fake sweepstakes scams, and bogus lotteries -- more fraudulent internet scams of all kinds -- than Quaker's got oats!  And that's a lot of oats!

But did you know that lawyers, like the elderly, are also frequent targets of internet con artists on the prowl?  While I haven't seen any statistics, I can attest that, quite often, we at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC, located in Augusta, Georgia, receive email containing offers that are "too good to be true" from  criminals around the world.  For example, today, I received an urgent inquiry from a man, (who claimed to be from Malaysia), who alleged he desperately needs an American law firm to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to his company.  On other occasions, we have received similar email requests to help collect large sums supposedly owed to parties who have divorced and whose husbands remain in this country.  In each case, the hook might be a little bit different, but the goal is the same.  Of course, in each case, the con artist simply wants to obtain our bank account information -- that is, if we ever bite down on their tempting hook!

How should we respond?  Part of me wants to respond by telling them what I really think of them!  I also want to scare them about the fact that I am a former federal prosecutor and that I have turned them in to the F.B.I.  But then, I realize that the best course of action, in this situation, is probably to simply ignore and delete the fraudulent emails.  I realize that the F.B.I. is too busy to investigate so many internet fraud scams.  After all, as I have concluded, there are more internet scams "out there" than Quaker's got oats!

What do you think?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A New White Collar Crime in Georgia Series: "You Be The Prosecutor!"

                                            [Photo from]

Okay, today, we are going to start a new (occasional) series in this blog about white collar crime!  It is called: "You Be The Prosecutor!"  As many of you know, before I became an Augusta, Georgia criminal defense attorney, I was a state and federal prosecutor for much of my legal career.  As a former federal prosecutor, for over 20 years, I was required to make many decisions, based upon many different fact patterns, about who should or should not be charged with a crime.  In white collar crime cases, such decisions can be especially difficult to make.  

But now, it is your turn!  YOU be the prosecutor for a day!  Let's see what you would do, and who you would investigate, or charge, if anyone, in the following (totally) fictitious fact pattern!  Here are the "facts:"

A serious fire has occurred one night at a local textile mill.  Tragically, fourteen employees were unable to get out of the mill when aging mill machinery caught on fire and panic ensued among scores of mill workers.  Several fire extinguishers and the water sprinkling system had not been properly maintained and did not work.  The fire marshal's report also indicates that several employees located near fire exits were unable to get out the nearby exits because the exits had been padlocked by the mill manager months earlier.  The mill manager indicated that he had been forced to padlock all fire exits in order to address a problem with thefts by unidentified mill employees. 

The mill is owned by an investment company composed of three individuals who live out of state.  Several email messages indicate that the mill owners were ill-informed about the aging mill's conditions, but had expressed a desire that any new safety measures or inspections would have to yield to the bottom line.

Okay, You Be The Prosecutor!  What would you do?  Who, if anyone, would you make a target of a grand jury investigation (and why)?