Thursday, April 11, 2024

Good Article on Lesser Included Offense Strategy in Trump Criminal Trial in NY Court Next Week (4/11/24)

I have written on several occasions on the concept of lesser included offense, including the strategies involved for defense counsel in seeking a lesser included offense instruction. See e.g., Defense Request of Lesser Included Offense Instruction Precludes Questioning Sufficiency of Conviction (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 10/3/17), here; and Court Affirms Conviction, Rejecting Lesser Included Offense Instruction Request (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 7/17/19; 7/18/19), here; for the complete list sorted by relevance see here and sorted by date see here.

I thought readers might like the following Politico article:  Ankush Khardori, The Surprising Strategy Trump Could Use to Win His Manhattan Trial (Politico 4/11/24), here. The author, a former federal prosecutor, has a good discussion of Former President Trump’s potential use of the lesser included offense in his upcoming criminal trial in New York state court set to commence on April 15, 2024.

One key risk for the defendant is that a jury who thinks the crime(s) charged are too harsh for the conduct or might have some other reason to not convict where the binary choice is guilty or not guilty of the more serious offense charge might settle back (compromise) on a lesser included offense whereas, had the choice remained binary, the jury would acquit. 

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Report on IRS CI Use of BSA Filings in Financial Crime Investigations (4/6/24)

The IRS has posted this report on the use of the BSA filings.  IRS CI, Primary subject in nearly 88% of investigations opened by CI in FY23 had a BSA filing, here(1/17/24; last reviewed or updated 1/18/24 and viewed 4/6/24). The posting mentions specifically third-party reports such as suspicious activity reports and currency transaction reports. The report is short but I copy and paste a couple of key paragraphs:

The primary subject in nearly 88% of investigations opened by CI during fiscal year 2023 (FY23) had a BSA filing. From FY21 to FY23, BSA data was instrumental in securing average prison sentences of 39 months and seizing $7.4 billion in assets tied to criminal investigations. BSA data during this same timeframe also resulted in restitution orders totaling $434 million and forfeited assets totaling $629 million, nearly double and triple the amounts, respectively, from FY20 to FY22.

* * * *

Under the BSA, financial institutions must notify the federal government when they encounter instances of potential money laundering or tax evasion. Of the CI investigations that originated from BSA data in FY23, 77% used information from suspicious activity reports, and 63.6% used information from currency transaction reports. Additionally, 16.5% involved fraudulent Small Business Association loans tied to COVID relief programs, 7.1% involved skimming where the primary subject steals funds from a business or charity and 4.7.% involved employment tax fraud where taxes due were not paid.

The key information relates to “financial crime investigations” which is defined at the end to include “tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more.” (Bold-face supplied by JAT.) I wonder whether the data set from which the 88% figure derives includes garden-variety tax crimes. My question is whether garden-variety tax crimes would generate such a high number of third-party BSA reports. Or, maybe the 12% remainder accounts for most of the garden-variety tax crimes.

A similar report came out last year. BSA data serves key role in investigating financial crimes, here (1/18/23, last reviewed or updated 11/9/23, and viewed 4/6/24),. That report showed an 83% figure over the past 3 years. The FY23 report mentioned above was at 88% but only related to a single year.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Attorney General Jackson Famous 1940 Speech on the Role of the Federal Prosecutor (4/1/24; 4/3/24)

I have recently written an article featuring Justice Robert H. Jackson’s contributions to tax law and to administrative law, The Tax Contribution to Deference and APA § 706 (SSRN 4665227 January 17, 2024), here. I am a Justice Jackson fan, heavily influenced by his contributions to the discussion of deference in tax cases and other contributions to tax as IRS Chief Counsel, Assistant Attorney General for Tax, Solicitor General, Attorney General, and then as Supreme Court Justice authoring the famous unanimous opinion in Dobson v. Commissioner, 320 U.S. 489 (1943), here, reh. den. 321 U.S. 231 (1944), here. (Note: many citations to Dobson omit the opinion denying rehearing, but the opinion on denial of rehearing is important for understanding Dobson.; one interesting feature of the opinion on rehearing is that Justice Douglas dissented in the denial of rehearing without explaining his position (not uncommon for Douglas in tax cases) but Justice Douglas had not dissented from the original opinion. See * below)

Correction 4/3/24 4:40pm: I have corrected the bold-face to say Douglas rather than Jackson. I apologize for that error.

Justice Jackson did so much more than tax; indeed, his major contributions to the country were not tax contributions; those major contributions should not eclipse his tax contributions though.

Today, I received an email from a Jackson scholar, John Q. Barrett, professor of law at St. John’s University (bio here). The bio mentions that his emails for his “Jackson List” go to more than 100,000 readers.  In today’s email, Professor Barrett quotes in full Justice Jackson’s famous speech on April 1, 1940 as Attorney General titled “The Federal Prosecutor.” Readers of this blog may read the entire speech on the Jackson Center site, here (with a link to its original publication in  ); and on DOJ site here. Sprinkled through the speech are some real gems of wisdom about the prosecutor’s role. I will not “cherry-pick” the best or my favorite quotes because all are good and are really appreciated best in the full context of the speech. (I do alert that he does not mention the word “tax” in the speech; perhaps that alert may induce some to read the speech.)



* On Justice Douglas’ propensity to offer no opinion for his dissents in tax cases, see Bernard Wolfman, Jonathan L.F. Silver, & Marjorie A. Silver, The Behavior of Justice Douglas in Federal Tax Cases 122 U. Pa. L. Rev. 235 (1973), later turned into a book titled Dissent Without Opinion: The Behavior of Justice Douglas in Federal Tax Cases (1975).