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Criminal Law Litigation White Collar Crime

Confronting the Company: Corporate Guilty Pleas as Evidence in Criminal Trials

This article reviews the history of the admission of individual co-conspirator plea allocutions in criminal cases and discuss why the admission of a corporate guilty plea, despite the opportunity to cross-examine a corporate employee who signed the plea agreement, does not provide the type of cross-examination guaranteed by the Confrontation Clause.

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Can the guilty plea allocution of a corporation be admitted against an individual defendant in a criminal trial to prove the existence of a conspiracy? A recent evidentiary ruling in the Southern District of New York suggests it can, provided that “signatories” to the corporate plea agreement are available for cross-examination. This article reviews the history of the admission of individual co-conspirator plea allocutions in criminal cases and discuss why the admission of a corporate guilty plea, despite the opportunity to cross-examine a corporate employee who signed the plea agreement, does not provide the type of cross-examination guaranteed by the Confrontation Clause. As a result, the Confrontation Clause should operate as a per se bar on the admission of corporate plea allocutions in the trials of individual defendants.

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