The insufferable Sherron Watkins

Sherron Watkins_3.jpgYesterday was Sherron Watkins day at the criminal trial of former key Enron executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, and despite her self-portrayal as a paragon of virtue amidst a cauldron of corruption at Enron, Watkins came off in person as an insufferable know-it-all. Even when it’s not particularly in her interest to do so.

Everyone who follows the Enron saga knows Ms. Watkins. She is the former mid-level Enron executive who parleyed this mid-August 2001 warning memo to Mr. Lay into a lucrative talk show-pundit career of waxing eloquent on all things Enron.

She testified to fawning Congressional subcommittees, co-authored an Enron book, was one of the primary Enron employees interviewed during the Enron movie, and has made a tidy living over the past several years on the rubber-chicken circuit portraying herself as a whistleblower with special expertise on the subject of leadership. Wherever there is a light and a camera, Ms. Watkins is ready to pontificate about Enron.

The fact that Ms. Watkins was not a whistleblower (she never alerted anyone outside of Enron or Arthur Andersen about alleged accounting improprieties) and that her memo to Lay characterized Enron’s problems as primarily a public relations issue has gotten lost in the Enron milieu.

In fact, the specific LJM transactions that she criticized in her memo had been approved by accountants and attorneys inside and outside of Enron. At the time of her memo, Lay listened courteously to her concerns, ordered an investigation, protected her from Mr. Fastow’s threats to fire her for going around him to Lay, and ultimately ordered the unwinding of the Raptor financial vehicles that resulted in more than a $500 million charge to Enron’s earnings in the third quarter of 2001.

Nevertheless, Watkins insisted self-righteously yesterday that Lay committed fraud in connection with his handling of the matter, primarily because he did not follow each and every one of her recommendations to him.

Meanwhile, Watkins’ testimony was downright bizarre regarding her $47,000 in insider trades of Enron stock that she made after delivering her memo to Lay and prior to the company’s announcement of the charge to earnings. Despite having certified in a 2002 Enron employment agreement and sworn in Congressional testimony that she had not engaged in any illegal insider trading while at Enron, Watkins yesterday conceded on direct examination that the trades were not “proper” because “I had more information than the marketplace did.”

But then, on cross-examination, Lay lawyer Chip Lewis courteously attempted to defend Watkins from a charge of insider trading by pointing out that, at the time of the trades, it was still unclear whether there was anything wrong about the accounting for the Raptor financial vehicles and, thus, she was not trading on material, non-public information.

In the ensuing exchange, Watkins proceeded to dispute Lewis’ attempt to portray her trades as not illegal. Tip to Watkins — keep that defense attorney on your payroll.

Also, Watkins is not going to be getting any holiday greeting cards from Houston-based Vinson & Elkins, which was Enron’s primary outside counsel. After accusing V&E of engaging in criminal acts with regard to its handling of the Lay-ordered investigation of the matters raised in her memo, Watkins engaged in the following exchange with Lewis:

Q: Now, in talking about V&E, you would acknowledge with me that they’re one of our country’s most prominent legal institutions, wouldn’t you?

A: Not anymore.

Finally, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake — who has the patience of Job and administers the trial proceedings with a delightful combination of firmness and grace — probably had the best observation about Watkins’ testimony. After enduring Watkins’ continual refusal to respond directly to the question asked on cross-examination, Judge Lake finally turned in exasperation to her and observed:

“You’ve got to respond to [Mr. Lewis’] questions. We’ll be here through the weekend if this keeps up.”

32 thoughts on “The insufferable Sherron Watkins

  1. Regarding the comment about Ms. Watkins “came off in person as an insufferable know-it-all”: not surprised that the defense would not like this, in that their clients, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling are the Sergeant Schultz’ of the corporate executive world “I know nothing, nothing!”. The idea that anyone at Enron knew anything, much less “knew-it-all” would be incomprehensible to Petro and his sidekick “Clarence Darrow” Ramsey (right out of the 1925 Scopes Monkey trial).

    It would appear that rather then coming off as an “insufferable know-it-all” Ms. Watkins has struck fear into Mr. Petrocelli. Immediately after court adjourned on Wednesday, Mr. Petrocelli appeared on television to announce that he and Mr. Skilling would be “going after” Ms. Watkins, apparently in a civil lawsuit, right after the trial is over, for her slandering Mr. Skilling. Nothing like a little witness tampering and intimidation to help your case along.

    I would assume that this not so “veiled threat” was also for the benefit of any other witnesses who are scheduled to appear for the prosecution, “remember, we may be going after you after this trial is over”.

    Maybe next we will be hearing from Mr. Petrocelli that Michael Corleone will be paying Ms. Watkins and other witnesses a “courtesy call”.

  2. Now please explain how one tampers with and intimidates a witness AFTER he/she gives testimony?
    You had better consult with those that know what that’s really all about, the Enron Task Force. Or maybe you already are?

  3. Nothing like a little witness tampering and intimidation to help your case along…
    which is what I make of your post, TK
    Moe

  4. Moe, what’s the “little witness tampering and intimidation to help your case along” from my post? The post doesn’t have anything to do with witness tampering or intimidation. What are you talking about?

  5. Tom,
    Your post says that Watkins did not tell anyone outside of Enron. She did tell AA partner James Hecker who was not on the Enron engagement. Hecker promptly & properly notified the Enron engagement team, legal folks, etc. However, my understanding is that AA was then out of the loop re the V&E investigation.
    What I find interesting is that Watkins, an Enron VP working for Andy Fastow, has neglected to mention that AA was never hired to audit any of Enron’s SPEs, including the Raptors, Rythms/ Swap Sub and all the others, with the exception of Chewco/JEDI, which was unaudited.
    Enron NorthAmerica Bankruptcy Examiner Harrison Goldin examined the KPMG audits of the SPEs. Mr. Goldin found evidence to support a claim against KPMG for “aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duty” by Enron officers Andrew Fastow, Ben Glisan & others. Specifically , “KPMG had actual knowledge of Fastow’s unauthorized personal benefit and/or self-dealing involving the LJM partnerships.”
    However, Mr. Goldin correctly does not fault KPMG for being unable to discover the existence of oral side agreements.
    Ms. Watkins also neglects to mention that before allowing Enron to set up the Raptors, AA required that Enron secure a fairness opinion from another accounting firm. PwC provided that opinion.
    Enron North America Bankruptcy Examiner Harrison Goldin found evidence to support a claim that PwC was guilty of “professional malpractice and grossly negligent conduct” in rendering fairness opinions re Rythms/Swap Sub and the Raptor I transaction. (The subsequent Raptors had a similar fact pattern so AA relied on PwC’s fairness opinion for the other Raptors.) Mr. Goldin concluded that if AA had known the [PwC fairness] opinions were not reliable, Andersen would not have approved the transactions.
    Did Sherron Watkins, an Enron VP working for Fastow, really not know who the auditors were? Or is she deliberately overlooking material facts just as Fastow deliberately covered up the oral side agreements promised to banks who signed documentation that they were “investing” in Enron’s SPEs?

  6. TK,
    seems to me when the best thing you write about a witness its that they are “insufferable” and that you then make statements designed to damage her in her trade or business (“made a tidy living over the past several years on the rubber-chicken circuit portraying herself as a whistleblower with special expertise on the subject of leadership”) you are attempting to inflict injury for her having testified against your own financial interest–let’s recall that you represent one or more Enron defendants
    I realize that you and too many others believe that the Enron trial is an extension of a Karl Rove political campaign. You are an officer of the Court and have a higher calling, to see that justice is done. Attacking witnesses in the way you did was just as much as threat as Skillings threat of a lawsuit

  7. Watson committed a crime that is easy to detect and easy to prosecute and that she is essentially confessing to- insider trading- so why was she not prosecuted? One guess. Why is Watson and others so anxious to state there was wrongdoing that they were aware of and in fact, are implicating themselves in crimes on the witness stand, if there was not an “understanding” that they would stay in the clear so long as they helped get a conviction. The claim that some of these government witnesses are testifying without a deal is B.S.. It may not be a written agreement but in the world of “bear hugs”, this is a Big Ole Grizzly from the prosecution. Watkins claiming she was not pursued for her crime because she was not a leader is beyond ridiculous. Someone out there may know of some rule that there can’t be any secret assurances with prosecutors but the reality is the guys who enforce the rules are not the ones living by them. We are seeing that over and over in these recent prosecutions.
    BTW Mary- Huh? Just because AA was not hired to audit a specific SPE doesn’t mean they weren’t involved in forming them or know about them. And AA were the auditors of record and advised on disclosures or does everyone have that wrong too? Frankly, the claim that someone with the credibility of Hecker, forwarded an e-mail to Enron’s AA team means absolute squat.

  8. It seems AA partner/auditor James Hecker I recall was witness in other federal fraud cases besides ENRON and not for the defendant. Must be one of those hear no evil, see no evil auditors. ‘I know nothing but what they want to show me.’ Perrenial innocent auditor/bystander? Get Real!! Also, I was waiting for Sherron Watkins to give us one of those “I am just like you” spills we heard before. Umm.. Linda Who???

  9. Moe, lighten up. I don’t represent anybody in connection with the Lay-Skilling trial.
    My criticism of Watkins is just my opinion. Others may thing differently. However, given her outlandish public statements that she has made toward several people — including but not limited to Lay and Skilling — my sense is that my opinion is entirely justified.
    As to your professional advice, given the nature of many of your comments on this blog, I find it highly ironic. I will leave it at that.

  10. FJO posts, “Watson committed a crime…”
    If that is true, how big of a crime did Skilling commit when he sold $200 million of Enron stock?
    Moe

  11. FJO,
    To see the Hecker memo, go to http://news.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/enron/andersen082102memo.pdf.
    Of course, Andersen advised on the transactions. But their advice can only be judged by the information given them. CPAs give advice based on the facts presented by the clients. If the client misstates the facts, obviously the advice will be wrong.
    Even if Andersen had been the auditors of the fraudulent SPEs (& therefore able to get some look inside the SPEs), there is no way for auditors to uncover fraud when every person they talk to or every document they are shown is part of the fraud. Auditors do not have power of subpoena; they have no authority to set up wiretaps; they cannot threaten life sentences; they can’t torture people. The only thing auditors can do is look for inconsistencies between what people say & various documents. If those people and documents are all fraudulent, then the fraud will not be uncovered until it collapses of its own weight.

  12. Tom K. —
    Thank you for the information. I have been shocked that the press is determined to make Watkins a hero while they ignore people such as Larry Ciscon.
    Ciscon, as you will recall, appeared as a witness for the defendants in the broadband trial. Ciscon was one of a couple dozen unindicted co-conspirators named in that case, and he testified on the stand that he had been threatened by the prosecutors in their attempt to prevent him from providing his truthful (and exculpatory) testimony.
    Now, compare Ciscon’s actions with those of Watkins. Watkins wrote an anonymous memo to Lay and later met with him. At most, her personal risk was the loss of her job. Ciscon, on the other hand, appeared publicly and spoke out under oath. The risk to him (as emphasized by the Enron Task Force) was an indictment that could result in Ciscon spending the rest of his life in prison.
    Ciscon’s bravery is emphasized by the fact that it appears to be rare in the various Enron cases. Few unindicted co-conspirators have displayed Ciscon’s willingness to defy the Enron Task Force and to speak out.
    Regardless of one’s feelings about Enron and the defendants in the various Enron cases, we should all congratulate Ciscon for his actions. The system only works when people with information speak out.

  13. Evan- I absolutely agree.
    Moe(re: your 3rd post and insider trading)- I don’t disagree.
    Mary- As I recall, from the news and government hearings, there were song parodies within AA about Enron that included references to AA “breaking rocks” created by an audit partner as early as 1995. And the lengthy memo you refer to which documented a discussion with Watkins was also kept internal to AA and the e-mail containing the memo was referenced by AA audit partner as “smoking guns you can’t extinguish”..
    AA may or may not have committed crimes but they were certainly not in the dark regarding their biggest revenue client, Enron.

  14. Evan reasons:
    Regardless of one’s feelings about Enron and the defendants in the various Enron cases, we should all congratulate Ciscon for his actions. The system only works when people with information speak out.
    Evan, I especially agree with the last sentence, but few criminals just freely tell their story. Consequently, the government is going to have some ability to coerce information from witnesses and to keep people from making up a defense.
    If asked, independent of Enron, whether the government has gone too far, I believe I could make a pretty good case for some improvements viz all cases.
    The reason why I keep commenting here is that, building on past views that they are special, the folks from Enron want a double standard, one for the elite and one for eveyone else.
    There are Larry Ciscon’s in American court rooms every day, but you never here the Enron elite or their lawyers doing a peep about such
    The targeted witness problem is especially troubling; the government has a bad habit of tampering with witnesses (look at the 20th hijacker case, which has just blown up due to misconduct by a government lawyer).
    If this blog focused on these merits, I wouldn’t be troubled. In fact, when appropriate, I have pointed out specific issues and case.
    However, to the extent that the blog is just jargon and propaganda, making the trial an extension of a bad Karl Rove campaign, I will send in a note.
    What especially bothers me is that TK blasts the NY AG, constantly. Why doe he not blame Bush and his AG? It’s because, my 2 cents, its all about the elite.

  15. FJO,
    People make jokes, songs re large tedious audits because they require endless overtime. The guy who made it up wasn’t on the audit. Admittedly, with the clarity of hindsight it wasn’t exactly great taste.
    The first fraud was committed with the disguised loans re Chewco/JEDI on 12/27/97 where Enron officers & Barclays Bank signed an agreement that Barclays was “investing” in JEDI. Yet on the very same day the very same people signed another agreement that made the transaction a loan & reversed the appropritate accounting. This side agreement came to light on 11/2/01.
    This was just months after the SEC exempted Enron from long-standing investor protection laws which, had they been in force, would have greatly limited Enron’s SPEs andcurtailed the frauds. Why did the SEC (under the leadership of Arthur Levitt) grant Enron this exemption? Because the House Energy & Commerce Committee (Under the leadership of Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), Rep. James Greenwood (R-PA) & Rep. John Dingell(D-PA)) urged them to. And why did politicians want the SEC to grant the exemption? In order to rake in political contributions.
    My understanding was that Enron advised AA that Vinson & Elkins would conduct an investigation into Ms. Watkins concerns. Meanwhile, AA would have been doing what any worried CPA would do — go back & check all the documentation re the Raptors, etc. What would they have? The fairness opinions by PwC re Rators, Swap Sub/Rythms, the KPMG audit opinions re the SPEs, the documents signed by the many banks attesting that they were “investing” in the SPEs, confirmations provided by the banks where they did not disclose any side agreements or contingent liabilities, the memos stating the facts of various transactions as AA understood them with the advice based on those facts (which would have been copied to the client) and letters from various officers representing that they had given AA all relevant and true facts.
    The obvious first question would be: Does Sherron Watkins know for a fact that there is fraud or is she relaying rumors? If she does know for a fact that there is fraud, why would she continue to work there? And if in fact there is fraud, then all the banks & all the officers who signed specific representation letters are frauds.
    Those banks include Citigroup, JP Morgn Chase, Bank of America, Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Toronto Dominion, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, BT/Deutshe & Merrill Lynch — in short, a large portion of our international banking system.
    People who value integrity don’t accuse people without finding out the cold, hard facts. Acting like Chicken Little accomplishes nothing and can be extremely dangerous — to Enron shareholders, the investment community & to the auditors. What if Sherron Watkins’ concerns were totally unfounded? The only course open to the Enron auditors was to suck in their gut and wait for the V&E investigation to unfold.
    There is no question that the AA auditors thought that Enron was a pushy client. Trial testimony indicated that AA required Enron to secure advance approval from the SEC before setting up the various SPEs. Testimony further indicated that in many instances the SEC agreed with Enron’s more aggressive accounting rather than AA’s more conservative accounting. And that is why AA required that Enron get fairness opinions on several transactions. They obviously wanted fresh eyes plus they must have been worried about the appearance of independence.
    Enron was AA’s biggest revenue client, but it was considerably less than 1% of fees. The whole theory that an auditor would deliberately do something wrong just doesn’t hold water. How could David Duncan or any of the others possibly benefit? Fastow, Kopper, etc. raked in millions. Various insiders sold stock. Auditors get nothing beyond their salary because it is forbidden to invest in clients.
    David Duncan’s share of the audit fees earned at Enron amounted to pennies per year. But if something goes wrong on the audit, he has to shoulder 100% of the blame. That means every partner’s neck is on the chopping block every single day. Partners always told us that they have far less job security than anybody else in the firm. That’s because a mistake — a blown audit or tax opinion — costs every partner and threatens the firm. They do not suffer fools gladly & any hint of a lie by anybody is cause for instant dismissal.
    Enron was in a changing business that had a lot of accounting issues were in unsettled territory. That’s why AA was making Enron get prior SEC approval and why there would be plenty of discussion of issues between AA auditors & firmwide specialists. But worrying about an audit certainly doesn’t equate to prior knowledge of criminal activity.
    With the clarity of hindsight, we know that Sherron Wadkins’ concerns were valid, that Andrew Fastow lies like a rug and he slithered through Enron corrupting not only Enron personnel but also major international banks. And Fastow will be out in 10 years. Unbelievable.
    Do you know that Citigroup & JpMorgan Chase admitted to Senate investigators that between them they had sold “at least 10 other corporations” on performing Enron-loike frauds? Yup. There are “at least” 10 more Enrons out there. The govt. did not mention who the corporations were or which auditors they framed.

  16. FJO,
    Two other observations.
    Both Enron Bankruptcy Examiners detail the banks’ widespread documentation of their willingness (& in many cases, their eagerness) to help Enron defraud & frame Andersen.
    And now, after the DOJ & politicians have destroyed Andersen, the DOJ finally admits that Andersen was lied to. How do we know? The DOJ has charged various Enron officers with lying to Andersen. If that doesn’t make a person sick, nothing will.

  17. Moe, the reason that I am critical of Spitzer is that he is copying the demagogic model of political expediency that Rudy Guiliani perfected 20 years ago with Drexel and Milken. Such figures make dangerous politicians, and the cost to society of their actions is enormous.
    Your attempts to politicize arguments against such figures only undermines any substance that your views may have. I have often criticized the Bush Administration’s Justice Department on this blog. Your failure to note it reflects your tendency to avoid dealing with information that does not comport with your morality play.

  18. TK writes, “Spitzer is . . . is copying the demagogic model of political expediency that Rudy Guiliani perfected 20 years ago with Drexel and Milken.”
    First, Rudy Guiliani did not use the demagogic model of political expediency against Milken, he indicted him, motivated out of a desire to protect the old line elite and wealthy who were threatened by Milken’s hostile takeover techniques.
    Your using this as an example is the best evidence yet of your being only a mouth piece for the right wing elite. You see issues only when someone in gov’t uses its powers against the rich, the elite, not whether it is a fair fight.
    The model of using the legal system for political purposes was perfected by Ed Meese, not Rudy Guiliani (Meese was the walking definition of policital expediency).
    It biggest exploiters have been John Ashcroft (resulting in Gonzales v. Oregon) and Bush and Bush’s brother, Jeb Bush. Recall a little case involving TERRI SCHIAVO. Now, there was a demagogic model of political expediency, with Bush waking up in the middle of the night to sign the bill.
    I don’t recall your blog spending day after day after day on Bush being nothing but the demagogic model of political expediency.
    Can we count on you, should Jeb move north out of Florida?
    Spitzer appears over the top sometimes, but he only picks on people his own size.

  19. Moe, Spitzer “only picks on people his own size?” Yeah, right. Like Theodore Sihpol.
    It’s absurdities such as this that undermine any substance that your views may have. You ought to give it a rest.

  20. It is my understanding that Bank of America paid for the defense–that’s pretty fair fight.
    Second, Sihpol did consent to being debarred by the SEC (and paid $200k, so what he was/was not guilty of) is not that black or white.
    Last, you know that a verdict in a particular case is meaningless as regards whether a prosecution is appropriate. For example, where is your venom for OJ’s prosecutor?
    Here is a good example of this blog just being an extension of a bad Karl Rove campaign. TK writes no differently that the following blogger
    “On hearing of the Sihpol verdict, STATEMENT FROM NEW YORK REPUBLICAN CHAIRMAN STEPHEN MINARIK
    Re: Not Guilty Verdict in trial of Theodore C. Sihpol, III
    Today, a jury of New Yorkers found former Bank of America broker Theodore Sihpol not guilty of 29 criminal counts filed by Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. In response to the jury’s verdict, New York State Republican Chairman Stephen Minarik said:
    “Eliot Spitzer finally found a headline he’s not going to like. This jury of New Yorkers exposes Spitzer as a politician whose ambition has steamrolled too many hardworking men and women of our state. Looks like the so called ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’ had a gun full of blanks.”
    Now for my 2 cents, this is just jargon and propaganda, defending the elite for political gain.
    Had the trial been a crime of violence, would this jack ever said something like this–No. The only reason the statement was made is that the speaker was protected by the elite

  21. Moe, you strain credulity. You suggest that it’s a fair fight for BofA to cut a deal with the prosecution to offer up Sihpol as a sacrifical lamb to the prosecution simply because BofA paid his defense cost?
    As for the O.J. prosecution — for whatever strained point you are trying to make with that analogy — I thought the outcome was right, although unfortunate. The LAPD framed a guilty man.
    Moe, you are a bright man and are capable of presenting a coherent position. However, your comments are increasingly insulting towards me and frankly, bizarre in nature. Perhaps you should consider frequenting other forums that do not generate that type of reaction from you. But if you keep it up here, your comment privileges will be terminated.

  22. TK
    I am not remotely suggesting that Bank of America cut a deal to offer up Sihpol. My understanding was that Sihpol made the deal himself. The only reason that I referenced the SEC situation was to show that there were facts justifying some look at Sihpol.
    I do believe that B of A paid for his defense in the criminal case, which would make such a fair fight with the NY AG.
    I also happen to believe that a SOCTUS made up of good old fashioned liberals would have long ago put an end to the piling on that takes place in cases like Sihpol.
    It is just plain wrong that the SEC and the State of NY both took a shot at this guy. It reveals a sick hidden truth about the criminal justice system–it is more driven by internal reports than what is in the public interest. I had one S&L failure once that occupied federal grand jurys in 3 different districts, state grand jurys in 3 counties, and like 27 federal agencies. The Coast Guard was even at one witness interview. My client got 8 months and 30 different agencies claimed credit, I swear.
    As for my comments, I am merely attempting to match yours.
    As for OJ, the point is simple. No one blasted the prosecutors the way the Republican operative blasted the NY AG.
    As for the police “framing” OJ, such an argument rests on an assumption that the police were beyond stupid–the only opportunity to do such was when Furman went over the wall, just hours after the crime. At that moment the police had no murder weapon and couldn’t exclude finding one across the street or down an alley or even in the trunk of a car stopped at a routine traffic stop 30 minutes later.
    For my 2 cents, the case was just another example of really really bad lawyering and judging. Never, ever, did one hear a prosecution story of how it happened–simple Jim McElhaney stuff–had you been standing in the corner of the entry garden, opposite the gate and front door, at about , you would have seen . . .
    The prosecution had a timeline, not a case.
    Beyond that..maybe I’ll just start a blog of my own”Muddled thinking and blurred vision from the middle of the river.”

  23. Moe, BofA — as Merrill Lynch did in the Enron Nigerian Barge case — offered up Sihpol to prosecutors in connection with cutting a deal for itself. My point is that such conduct is not a fair fight, even where the employer covers some portion of the cost of defense.
    You are correct that dark political forces are certainly responsible for the mess that we find ourselves confronting in regard to the extension and misuse of the prosecutorial power. I disagree with you that this is a liberal-conservative issue, which is badly-defined generally in regard to political issues and particularly in regard to this one. The fact that both Guiliani and Spitzer both used the model of abusing prosecutorial power to rise to political prominence reflects that all types of forces in the political process abear a portion of the responsibility for this increasing abuse of power. At least the unanimous SCOTUS decision in Andersen gives us some hope that jurists from all political persuasions may be taking notice of what’s going on.
    As for the OJ prosecution, I agree with you that it was a disaster. Obviously, McElhaney was not a consultant to that team.
    As for your own blog, go for it.
    Finally, in terms of the increasingly insulting nature of your comments merely being a response to mine, you should really check that. I don’t think that a measured review of my responses to your comments would find that my responses justify the invective in your comments toward me.

  24. BofA — as Merrill Lynch did in the Enron Nigerian Barge case — offered up Sihpol to prosecutors in connection with cutting a deal for itself..
    Any links to some historical account of this part of the affair
    Prosecutorial misconduct is a very liberal-conservative issue… you can search til the cows come home and never find a single case by a conservative judge that does one damn thing about any aspect of prosecutorial misconduct.
    Go look at the record of all your “favorites” for SCOTUS. You will never find an opinion finding or doing anything about prosecutorial misconduct.
    In Kyles, Scalia and the other fascists admitted that the rule of law was correctly stated in the majority opinion but still wanted to keep a possibly innocent person in jail, anyway. You show me a “conservative judge” whose uses this rule “The Court has adhered to the policy that, when the petitioner claims only that a concededly correct view of the law was incorrectly applied to the facts, certiorari should generally (i.e., except in cases of the plainest error) be denied. United States v. Johnston, 268 U.S. 220, 227 (1925).” and I’ll show you a sick, sick person.
    This is arrogant power, worthy of the worst popes, which is what Scalia pines to have been.

  25. Moe, this WaPo article provides the background on BofA serving Sihpol up to the prosecutors on the platter.
    BofA paid a large settlement to Spitzer, waived the corporate attorney-client privilege, gave Spitzer’s team tape-recordings of Sihpol, and then initially stiffed Sihpol for his defense costs under his employment agreement, but then relented on that once Sihpol sued to enforce that obligation. Very ugly behavior, but becoming commonplace these days.
    It would be interesting to see whether your hypothesis regarding conservative judges being less prone to sanction prosecutorial misconduct would hold up under empirical analysis. On purely an anecdotal basis, two federal judges in the Southern District of Texas who are considered fairly conservative — Hughes and Hittner — have to date been the only ones who have raised concerns on the record regarding apparent prosecutorial misconduct of the Enron Task Force. The most liberal judge in the District — Gilmore — did nothing when confronted with clear evidence of prosecutorial misconduct during the Enron Broadband trial.

  26. under empirical analysis–
    I should add a caveat: I have never known any trial judges, of any stripe, who will do much, if anything
    taking your comments on their face, “raising concerns” is about all one ever gets.
    Thank you for the info on BofA

  27. Although this post comes late as a contribution to this thread, I believe it to still be relevant, as the issues raised here are still unfolding and many are currently unresolved.
    Hoping to avoid overstepping my bounds with an initial post, I’ll steer clear of any comment on the esoteric technical aspects of the issues presented and instead address the macro subject of this thread ( as I assume that subject to be .)
    Simply put, there is a world of difference between a “whistle blower” and an informant ( more commonly referred to as a “rat” .) An informant ( or “rat” ) only “blows the whistle” when attempting to remedy, or help remedy, a deleterious situation ( more commonly referred to as “covering oneself” .) It seems beyond reasonable argument, considering both direct and empirical evidence, that Sharon Watkins had plenty of opportunity to be the former, but by definition, is in fact, the latter.
    As a side note: with due respect, Mr. Levine, your implicit and explicit charge of witness tampering seems bizarre if sourced only from the statements and comments within this thread.

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