Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Jerry Jarrett, a former criminal defence lawyer from Gary, Indiana, was sentenced this week to serve thirty seven months in Federal Prison, for laundering $67,000 of criminal proceeds for a client. The case should serve as a reminder that Federal prosecutors will often go to great lengths to convict criminal defence lawyers who have been skillful adversaries of the United States Attorney's office, and who are involved in criminal conduct.

Jarretts' jury guilty verdict, which was handed down back in 2004*, was overturned by the trial judge, upon the grounds of vindictive prosecution. Jarrett alleged that prosecutors were out to get him after he obtained a favourable result in a high-profile murder case in which he was lead counsel. The government appealed.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed** the lower court decision, holding that there was no clear and objective evidence of vindictive prosecution. The Court stated that a defendant must show through objective evidence that the prosecutorial conduct at issue was motivated by some sort of prosecutorial animus, and that it requires direct evidence.

The case was remanded back to the trial court, and the jury verdict reinstated. An order of forfeiture, in the amount of $92,000, was later entered. Though the government asked for 63-78 months of imprisonment, the Court noted that Jarrett had been disbarred, unemployed since 2004, and owing taxes and student loans, gave him 37 months, and two years of Supervised Release.

Obviously, when criminal defence lawyers commit crimes, you can expect aggressive prosecution to follow.

*United States vs. Jarrett, Case No: 03-cr-00087 (ND IND).
** United States vs. Jarrett, 447 F.3d 520 (7th Cir. 2006).


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