Justice Department's New Rules On Corporate Crime
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
In this country, the Justice Department has a new set of rules for corporate prosecutions. It ruled out those rules the same day that a federal appeals court said the Justice Department's old way of doing business was unconstitutional. Here's NPR's Ari Shapiro.
ARI SHAPIRO: This all centers around attorney-client privilege. For five years, prosecutors have gone easier on companies that surrendered privileged documents. Prosecutors were also less likely to indict companies that refused to pay employees' legal fees. A federal appeals court now says some of those Justice Department policies were unconstitutional.
Judges threw out the case against accounting firm KPMG. It was one of the biggest criminal tax prosecutions ever, but the court said prosecutors went too far. They pressured KPMG not to pay employees' attorney fees and that was unconstitutional, the judges said.
The ruling came just an hour before Deputy Attorney General Mark Phillips said the Justice Department is changing the rules. No more pressure to waive attorney-client privilege, no more rewards for refusing to pay an employee's legal fees.
Groups that have fought the Justice Department on this issue said the changes are good but not enough. The American Bar Association and members of Congress said legislation is the only permanent solution. An attorney-client privilege law has already passed the House and it's pending in the Senate.
Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.
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