Monday, December 23, 2013

Latest Insider Trading Conviction

Last week, a federal jury in Manhattan found former SAC portfolio manager, Michael Steinberg, guilty on 5 insider trading charges related to trades he made in the shares of Dell and Nvidia.  Steinberg was the highest-ranking employee at SAC Capital Advisors to stand trial for insider trading. Other SAC employees pled guilty to securities fraud and cooperated with the government. His verdict was also reached without the use of wiretap evidence; the evidence was purely circumstantial. A former SAC analyst who was cooperating did testify on behalf of the government, but otherwise, there was no hard evidence against Mr. Steinberg. 

The government's record is now 77 guilty pleas or convictions for insider trading cases over the past four years, out of 87 people charged, including firms and individuals.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Expert Testimony on Reliability of Breath Test in DUI Excluded

The California Supreme Court affirmed a trial court decision that excluded the defendant's expert witness testimony regarding the reliability of breath test machines at trial.

The court ruled as follows:

"The trial court did not err in limiting Dr. Hlastala‟s prehearing jury testimony and excluding his subsequently proposed elaborating testimony with respect to the statutory per se charge. As the trial court observed, defendant remained free to argue, and present evidence, that the particular machines used in this case malfunctioned, or that they were improperly calibrated or employed. But as explained earlier, the 0.08 percent breath-alcohol concentration formulated by the Legislature in enacting the underlying per se offense, section 23152(b), was adopted on the basis of correlation studies employing just such breath-testing
machines — and the various physiological factors that affect the results of breath machines generally, have already been taken into account by those studies and the widely accepted statutory partition ratio. We construe both the statute, section 23152(b), and the regulation on which defendant relies, California Code of
Regulations, title 17, section 1219.3, as calling simply for a breath specimen . . . " People v. Vangelder, Cal.Sup. C.t; Nov 21, 2013; S195423, at 51-52.

This case presents a blow to an otherwise-great expert defense in breath test DUIs!