Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Overzealous, Possibly Politicized, SEC Enforcement Division Hires Jury Consultant To Overcome Losses In High Profile Cases

From The Washington Times, "Mark Cuban mocks SEC lawyers, hails feds’ move to bring in hired guns: Mock jurors to aid agency attorneys" by Jim McElhatton
Facing a string of recent high-profile courtroom defeats, the Securities and Exchange Commission wants to a hire a mock trial firm to help agency lawyers get ready for big cases.

A jury consulting firm would assist the SEC on "high profile and/or complex" cases by hiring dozens of mock jurors and videotaping arguments from trial lawyers to help them fine tune their closing arguments.
Last week, for instance, a legal trade news website — law360.com — noted the SEC trial loss against a former executive of government contractor NIC Inc. in a story headlined, "SEC’s Courtroom Cred Slips as Trial Losses Mount." A jury had ruled against the agency when it found NIC’s former chief financial officer not guilty of a dozen federal charges brought by the SEC.

Two months earlier, the SEC was defeated at trial after accusing Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban of insider trading. And in another closely watched case, the SEC lost last year after a jury cleared former Citigroup employee Brian Stoker, whom regulators accused of negligence in a mortgage securities case.
Mr. [Mark] Cuban had sharp words for SEC lawyers working on his case, saying ... "seemed like he was doing it for the first time."

"If my case is any indication, the SEC has no concept of reality when it comes to dealing with juries," he said.
"Getting feedback will create self-awareness for their attorneys,” Mr. Cuban said. “The big question will be what happens when a mock jury tells them they have no case."

Hiring a consultant hardly guarantees trial success, though. In Mr. Cuban’s case, the SEC spent at least $24,000 for jury consulting services, federal procurement records show.

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