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Bench Memos

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The Wall Street Journal on Over-Criminalization



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Last week the Wall Street Journal had an interesting piece on Lauren Stevens, one of the more high-profile victims of over-criminalization. The whole thing is worth reading, but here is a snippet:
Attorneys are increasingly finding themselves on the wrong end of the legal system, targeted by lawsuits and, in some cases, even by prosecutors.
 
Take Lauren Stevens, a former vice president and associate general counsel for GlaxoSmithKline PLC who was indicted in 2010 on four counts of making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration. The charges stemmed from an investigation into whether the company had improperly promoted the antidepressant Wellbutrin for weight loss—an off-label use not approved by the FDA.
 
Ms. Stevens was ultimately acquitted last year by a Maryland federal judge who said she “never should have been prosecuted.”  The decision was considered a blow to government efforts to pin blame for alleged corporate wrongdoing on individuals. But the case rattled a number of in-house lawyers, and showed how documents that many attorneys assume are confidential could wind up in court.
And while I am on the topic of over-criminalization, I also recommend the Journal’s interesting profile on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, “From Watergate to Today, How the FCPA Became So Feared.”


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