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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/3649/arthur-andersen-conviction-overturned-by-u-s-supreme-court/

Arthur Andersen Conviction Overturned by U.S. Supreme Court

May 31, 2005 by

In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court overturned the accounting firm’s June 2002 conviction. The court found that the jury instructions at trial were overly vague and broad. In essence, the trial court improperly found the company guilty without evidence of intent to commit a crime. There was no obstruction of justice or improper destruction of Enron-related documents. It turns out that the company was railroaded, having been made the scapegoat for the Enron scandal. Will the company’s private ex-owners be compensated for the government’s mistake?

{ 15 comments }

Withheld on advice of counsel May 31, 2005 at 10:39 am

I certainly sympathize with the owners. Let’s not forget that a corporation is essentially a structured relationship between three groups of people: the owners (individuals, partnerships, shareholders, etc.), the customers and the employees. All three of these groups were unjustly harmed. Arthur Andersen’s owners lost an enormous amount of equity. Employees lost their jobs. And the customers had to seek alternative suppliers of those services in a less competitive marketplace.

Under those circumstances, what would be the appropriate response to the individuals who made what I will charitably assume was a mistake in filing criminal charges?

Rolf May 31, 2005 at 12:36 pm

Is that the same supreme court which put George Bush Junior into the presidency of the United States of America?

Vache Folle May 31, 2005 at 2:23 pm

None of the victims of the prosecution will be compensated.

Rolf May 31, 2005 at 2:25 pm

The victims will just have to do their own compensation to balance the scales of justice.

Andy D. May 31, 2005 at 2:53 pm

like what rolf? how will victims balence the scales of justice? Attack the government? Steal from the government so they just raise taxes? What a stupid statement…

sam May 31, 2005 at 6:32 pm

it should be that if the falsely indicted have lost their jobs, homes and the confidence of public then the government gives em back what they had, not what they would have if . Instead of money compensation to pay the moral prejudice, the government should gives them a role in the government that is making them in position to propose better laws to make less mistaken. this said, it could be used by organised crime to influence the government in its favor so the role must remain for advise use only..unlimited time? as much as they were in prison, or limited in their ability to be productive. Access to a media would help.

Curt Howland May 31, 2005 at 8:02 pm

Simple: Prosecute the government agents that railroaded the company. Make them personally responsible for their decision to punish the innocent, exactly the way they claim to be trying to make corporate officers personally responsible for the companies actions.

Trouble is, there is no liability for the government agents. They get to continually prosecute others on flimsy grounds, extort confessions and perjury through plea bargaining, and otherwise make a mockery of “justice” without danger that they themselves will be held accountable.

That is one of the biggest reasons that government can never be as efficient as the private market: There is no incentive not to waste their time and money on non-crimes and non-criminals.

Justin May 31, 2005 at 8:49 pm

The government openly and honestly pursued its case. The issue as to whether AA is innocent is still at large, they could still be found guilty, the failing is that of the justice system, by which they were pronounced guilty with insufficient evidence. How do we make whole wrongfully imprisoned people? There ought to be some means of redress. In this day of Sarbanes-Oxley, companies and people ought to be able to sue the government for libel if they are wrongfully convicted of a crime, or even accused by a source as “reputable” as the govt, and then found innocent. That would amount to no more than the signature accepting reponsibility that is now required of CFO’s on financial statements. Make the accusers liable for remuneration.

Charles May 31, 2005 at 10:31 pm

This case highlights the awesome power of a United States District Judge. Judge Melinda Harmon, a republican, came from the right wing of the Texas Republican Party party. She was a judicial activist in her handling of this case from its inception. Instead of being an impartial referee applying established legal precedents when called upon to do so, she activly participated in the case and constructed the jury charge. It is her baby, Rosemary.
Other food for thought is: How can an artificial person created by government(which a corporation is) with no brain commit a crime that is entirely a crime of specific intent? Obstruction of justice is a mind crime. Anderson has no mind. If a mail room employee destroyed mail that was incriminating, would Anderson be guilty of obstruction of justice?

jaimito June 1, 2005 at 12:46 am

If a mail room employee destroyed mail that was incriminating, would Anderson be guilty of obstruction of justice?

Yes. Unfair, but yes.

Rolf June 1, 2005 at 2:33 am

I wrote: The victims will just have to do their own compensation to balance the scales of justice.

Andy D Wrote:

like what rolf? How do victims balance the scales of justice? Attack the government? Steal from the government so they just raise taxes? What a stupid statement…

Oh so brutal and disrespectful you are with words Andy D.

The scales of justice are in each human heart. Those who do not have those scales balanced can often die of bitterness. There are an infinite amount of ways people find to balance those scales, some through violent acts others call terrorist acts
or through a variety of ways of self denial and deseption. People balancing those scales is one of governments every where greatests fears.

The burning rage in many comes from an inner knowing that their scales of justice are not balanced. They know they have been wronged and they feel impotent to do anything about it.

Lose has terrible consequences because the scales of justice must in one way or other balance.

Michael June 1, 2005 at 4:34 am

Rolf asks: “Is that the same supreme court which put George Bush Junior into the presidency of the United States of America?”

The Florida Supreme Court ignored Florida Election Law and the Supreme Court of the United States simply refused to allow them to do that. You can’t change the rules of the game after the game is played.

Rolf June 1, 2005 at 5:17 am

Michael:

Why did the Florida Supreme Court ignore the rules of the game?
Were they a Supreme Court ignorant of their own laws?

J Henderson June 1, 2005 at 1:25 pm

A right wing republican judge? I guess her career was flashing before her eyes. Better to be overturned by the Supremes than to be known as the judge who “failed” to punish someone for Enron.

Michael June 1, 2005 at 1:42 pm

Rolf: I cannot read minds. I do know that they ignored they knew the law and ignored it. The law gave specifics about procedures for recounts. The Florida Supreme Court changed the law from the bench. By the way, this is not in dispute, even by people who approved the Florida court’s decision. The Florida Supreme Court ignored the law altogether and made their own ruling about how a recount could be conducted.

The US Supreme Court simply told the Florida Court that it did not have the authority to do that.

You ask why the Florida court did what they did? I cannot say with certainty. I could speculate, but what’s the point of that?

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