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Elizabeth Holmes is accused of lying to investors and committing fraud. The state believes that she told investors that her company’s medical device would be able to replace complex labs that perform bloodwork. However, the device did not work as advertised, cost investors millions, and tanked the company for which she was CEO. The state accuses her of knowingly providing investors with false or overstated information and omitting information concerning the results of her company’s product. 

Analyzing her defense strategy

The biggest problem Holmes faces right now is that the prosecution has produced a cavalcade of witnesses who will testify that Holmes made specific statements concerning the quality of the device for the purpose of getting more money for her company. The witnesses will testify that Holmes overstated the efficacy of the device to get more capital for her company. However, the device never worked. 

Buried behind the headlines of high-profile criminal cases involving pedophile islands, modern lynchings, and public shootings, is another high-profile trial with incredibly high stakes coming out of California. However, because Elizabeth Holmes did not shoot three people, lynch a Black man, or organize the largest sex crime racket in human history, her trial is not nearly as famous as the other three. Luckily for Holmes, her trial just is not as interesting. Yet the stakes are incredibly high for the founder of Theranos who is accused of defrauding investors by overstating the functionality of a blood-testing device.

The device was believed to be a revolutionary step forward in the medical industry, but Holmes is accused of failing to disclose major shortcomings in the device to investors. For the prosecution to successfully convict Holmes, they must prove that Holmes knew the device was defective and still overstated what it could do. If true, they could convict Holmes on charges of wire fraud which carries a potential sentence of 20 years. Holmes would also be required to make restitution to investors. There is a lot of money in play, and stakeholders will be closely watching the criminal case to see how strong their civil cases are.

Understanding the Charges

What happens when the main suspect of a prosecution kills himself before he can go to trial? The state will find the next culpable person and nail them to the wall. In terms of Jeffrey Epstein, that person is Ghislaine Maxwell. Epstein was accused of running a criminal scheme targeting underage girls for sexual abuse. Epstein would pay the girls for sex, have them tell their friends that he was paying for sex, and the girls would perform sexual favors for Epstein. Maxwell is believed to have helped Epstein organize and hide his activities. The defense claims that they are targeting Maxwell because they no longer have Epstein to convict. While their claim is likely true, it does not mean necessarily that she was not involved in a criminal conspiracy to target underage girls for sexual abuse.

Maxwell is accused of soliciting minors for Epstein during the early ’90s. By the 2000s, Epstein had already employed his pyramid scheme approach which avoided Maxwell’s involvement in recruiting girls to abuse. 

Analyzing the Defense Strategy

Kyle Rittenhouse has been eating up the headlines, but a recent verdict in favor of the prosecution may salve any lingering misgivings about his acquittal. Three men have been charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. The men approached Arbery on the street believing that he was loitering around a home that was under construction so that he could find something to steal. The men detained Arbery under a centuries-old citizen’s arrest law that has since been repealed after furor over the Arbery case.

Travis McMichael was convicted of malice murder, which is similar to first-degree murder in Illinois. It was the strongest conviction the prosecution was able to attain. McMichael’s son was charged with felony murder as was a third man who broke the case wide open by publishing a video of the murder.

But the case almost did not make it to trial. Now, the first prosecutor who was presented with the case is facing charges of prosecutorial misconduct for her role in preventing the case from going to trial. The state’s attorney general has charged the prosecutor with prosecutorial misconduct and corruption. She recused herself from the case when it became known that she and the McMichaels knew one another. She is accused of attempting to influence the prosecution of the case in favor of the defendants.

A Chicago-area woman is facing charges for the murder of her mother in Indonesia. She spent the last seven years in an Indonesian prison on the same charges. She is believed to have killed her mother with the help of her boyfriend at the time. Authorities believe that the daughter and her boyfriend killed the mother and then stuffed her into a suitcase. The two exchanged text messages on how and when to kill the mother. The defendant has pleaded not guilty to the charges but waived a release hearing that would have allowed the judge to set bond. She will remain in federal prison until January when her next hearing is set.

Does double jeopardy apply to foreign prosecutions?

No. It is only intra-circuit, which can make things frustrating and confusing. If, for example, a defendant is charged under state law and the jury comes back with a verdict of not guilty, the federal government can step in and re-prosecute the charges. This almost never happens unless the issue is extremely high-profile and the stakes in a conviction are extremely high. 

Two Chicago-area brothers are facing charges related to the fencing of stolen merchandise from their electronics store. The brothers are believed to have knowingly acquired the stolen merchandise, which is important for their successful prosecution. Authorities say that the merchandise was stolen from railcars and then sold to the brothers by thieves. They then repackaged laptops, fitbits, and other electronic devices for sale in other states and countries. 

Transportation of Stolen Goods

There are several statutes that the brothers can be charged under, but in this case, they are only being charged with selling and transporting the stolen goods, not with actually stealing them. You can bet that if federal prosecutors had evidence of the brothers stealing the goods or being involved in the theft, that the charges would have been much higher. That is because theft of interstate commercial goods are prosecuted under The Hobbes Act which is an anti-organized crime and racketeering legislation that allows for enhanced penalties related to the interference of interstate commerce. In this case, the brothers avoided penalties under the Hobbes Act because they did not use force or coercion to acquire the goods.

Under the law, police officers face the same consequences for committing crimes that the general public does. The issue that comes into play is the fact that police officers have more ability to manipulate the law to their advantage than the general public does. When they commit crimes, they understand how an investigation will unfold, they can cover their tracks, and they have the support of their brothers in blue to back them up.

Recently, an off-duty Chicago police officer was charged with discharging her weapon at Sam’s Club when a team of thieves attempted to swipe her SUV. She was in the parking lot with her husband when the theft occurred. The officer opened fire on the thieves and has since been charged with a crime: Reckless discharge of a weapon. Did she really commit a crime?

Analyzing the Charges

One thing many folks are not aware of is that double jeopardy, the legal concept by which an individual can only be tried once for the same crime, does not apply across jurisdictions. While it is exceedingly rare for the federal government to pursue a prosecution that was already lost at the state level, it is much more likely in cases when the defendant is acquitted. It is also more likely in cases where the federal government has a valid reason to pursue the charges under federal law, and the cases they do pursue after failed state prosecutions tend to be high-profile high-stakes cases like Rittenhouse’s trial.

The jury was made aware by the judge that if they convicted Rittenhouse on any of the homicide charges, it would reduce the likelihood of a second trial filed by the federal government. On the other hand, it increased the possibility that Rittenhouse would be convicted in this trial. In other words, the jurors were instructed as to the consequences of their decision. 

What Federal Charges Could Rittenhouse Face?

The Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial took an interesting turn this week. When a judge excludes a certain line of questioning from a criminal case, neither side can ask questions that would put a witness in the position of answering that question. In this case, the judge excluded evidence that Rittenhouse was going to the protest to defend property. The prosecution had Rittenhouse on the ropes when they broached that line of questioning. Before Rittenhouse could answer through tearful sobs, the judge shut down the proceedings, rebuked the prosecutor, and sent the jury out of the room. 

The defense’s objection raised the point that the trial was not going well for the prosecution. By asking questions that had been specifically prohibited by the judge, the prosecution (the defense claimed) was attempting to cause a mistrial that would have allowed the prosecution to start all over again, perhaps with a better theory of what happened and stronger supporting evidence that could be made. The defense then also moved for a mistrial with prejudice. That would have meant that the trial could not have ever been retried by the prosecution and Rittenhouse would be presumed innocent of the charges for the remainder of his life. 

Understanding What is Happening

With the Kyle Rittenhouse trial now entering its waning hours, much and more has been written about the justifiable use of force in self-defense situations. In the Rittenhouse case, the prosecution is failing to overcome the statutes that make exceptions for the lethal use of force in certain situations.

The prosecution had hoped to introduce evidence that Rittenhouse had gone to the riot in order to “defend property,” but was rebuffed from introducing that evidence. Further, the prosecution was unable to uncover any social media evidence that indicated that Rittenhouse went there for the purpose of doing armed combat with “commies.” That would have been the smoking gun (no pun intended) they needed to pursue a strong prosecution against Rittenhouse. Unfortunately, they never uncovered that smoking gun. And while we can all question why Rittenhouse was allowed to enter a war zone with a gun and the type of parenting failures that had to go into that decision, the jury will not be able to take that into account.

That means that the prosecution is stuck arguing that Rittenhouse did not act in self-defense once he got to Kenosha. Since the one guy was going after his gun and the other guy tried to hit him with a skateboard, the prosecution will likely not overcome their burden of proof.

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