The recent decision by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office not to retry Steven H. Davis, the former Chairman of Dewey & LeBoef, the once-prominent New York law firm that collapsed in bankruptcy in 2012 sheds new light on the difficulty of securing a convictions of individuals allegedly involved in complex frauds.
The New York District Attorney’s Office was unable to secure conviction on 93 charges against three men, including Mr. Davis, after 21 days of deliberation. The trial judge declared a deadlock after the jury earlier acquitted the men on 58 charges.
According to the New York Times, in interviews conducted after the trial, jurors told reporters and the lawyer involved in the case that the prosecutors presented too many charges against the defendants and the case was too complex. Read more at New York Times Article
The reality is that mistrials are nothing new in white-collar cases. These cases are often complicated civil disputes malformed into criminal cases. In New York State alone there were several white-collar cases ending in acquittals or mistrials in the middle of the year. According to Big Law Business:
In June, a jury acquitted two senior executives of Abacus Bank, a small lender based in Chinatown, of larceny and mortgage-fraud charges. In July, a state judge overturned a guilty verdict Vance’s prosecutors won against Sergey Aleynikov, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. programmer accused of stealing code, ruling that state law didn’t outlaw Aleynikov’s conduct. Vance initiated the case after a U.S. appeals court reversed a federal conviction. He’s appealing the state judge’s decision.
Read more at Bloomberg Press Article There are a lot of arguments that can be made as to why these cases ended in acquittal or mistrials. However, it seems clear that at the foundation of each of theses cases the Government overreached. I also can’t help but think about the strong American belief that the criminal law must be so clear that a potential defendant can be running and still understand it.