What the Wall Street Journal Missed about False Statements Made to the FBI

John Emshwiller and Gary Fields of The Wall Street Journal have been producing a series of front-page stories about overcriminalization in the United States, with a focus on vague and overbroad statutes, especially federal statutes. Their stories have highlighted an unfortunate basic fact about living in this country: the Department of Justice has an unconscionable number of laws at its disposal, and they know how to use and abuse them to target the innocent – many of the same themes I’ve covered in my “Injustice Department” series on forbes.com.

But in one of their recent articles about the DOJ’s practice of bringing “false statements” prosecutions, they failed to discuss the most important—and most pernicious—aspect of the feds’ use and abuse of the false statement statute. These false statements prosecutions must be understood in conjunction with the FBI’s deliberate policy not to record their interrogations and interviews of targets and of witnesses, and to instead rely on agents’ “Form 302” reports to supposedly document interviews. The result is a truly corrupting and terrifying combination, and helps to explain the problem Emshwiller and Fields highlight.

You can find a link to our article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/harveysilverglate/2012/04/18/what-the-wall-street-journal-missed-about-false-statements-made-to-the-fbi/

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Justice 'Deferred'

In a recent front-page article in The New York Times, reporters Gretchen Morgensen and Louise Story argue that “Deferred Prosecution Agreements” represent a softer approach to corporate crime. What the Times misses, however, is the extent to which these arrangements, and their proclivity for punishing the innocent, sow terror within the rank and file of corporate employees and officers. The Deferred Agreements, I write in my latest Forbes.com column, represent a creative way for the federal government to extract a large fine from the company, manufacture convictions of individual officers and employees, enhance the reputations and conviction rates of federal prosecutors before they head to Wall Street law firms for high-paying partnerships--all while dispensing with the inconvenience of indictment or trial.
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Updates related to Harvey's
book Three Felonies a Day, a critical
take on the Justice Department

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