Parallel Criminal/Civil Proceedings

Recently, federal and state civil and criminal enforcement agencies—and private plaintiffs—have dramatically increased the extent to which they cooperate in gathering information and coordinating litigation. For example, in 2002, President Bush created the “Corporate Fraud Task Force” which now includes representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and several other federal agencies. The primary focus of the Task Force, according to the Department of Justice, is to “maximize[e] cooperation and joint regulatory and enforcement efforts throughout the federal law enforcement community.”

Collectively, those agencies have access to a variety of tools for gathering information and imposing a wide range of sanctions, including debarment from federal contracting, disgorgement, criminal fines, punitive and other exemplary damages, imprisonment, and other severe penalties. The existence of “parallel” civil and criminal investigations and/or litigation creates other enormous challenges for clients and their counsel, including:

  • Determining how to cooperate with government investigations without waiving the protection of the attorney-client privilege and/or the work product doctrine with respect to private litigants;
  • Grappling with the dilemma of preserving the client’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination while not jeopardizing the client’s interests in the parallel civil litigation;
  • Coordinating civil discovery in a way that allows the client to obtain as much information as possible while not prejudicing the client’s concurrent rights and interests in the criminal investigation;
  • Understanding the effects that a particular resolution of one matter might have on the client’s interests in the parallel matter(s); and
  • Understanding the extent to which the resolution of certain issues in one case might have preclusive effects in another.

For these reasons, it is critical that clients who are the subjects of investigations or litigation in these areas ensure that their counsel is experienced and knowledgeable in both the civil and criminal arenas.

The Angeli Law Group ’s attorneys, all of whom have substantial experience handling complex, high-profile civil and criminal litigation, are particularly well suited for these types of matters.

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