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Structural Reform Prosecution

by Brandon L. Garrett
93 Va. L. Rev. 853 (2007)
Article

In what I call a structural reform prosecution, prosecutors secure the cooperation of an organization in adopting internal reforms. No scholars have considered the problem of prosecutors seeking structural reform remedies, perhaps because until recently organizational prosecutions were themselves infrequent. In the past few years, however, federal prosecutors have adopted a bold new prosecutorial strategy under which dozens of leading corporations have entered into demanding settlements, including AIG, American Online, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Computer Associates, HealthSouth, KPMG, MCI, Merrill Lynch & Co., and Monsanto. To situate the DOJ’s latest strategy, I frame alternatives to the pursuit of structural reform remedies as well as five alternative ways prosecutors can pursue structural reform. To better understand what the DOJ accomplished by choosing to pursue structural reform and then doing so at the charging stage, I conducted an empirical study of the terms in all agreements the DOJ has negotiated to date. My study reveals imposition of deep governance reforms, consistent with the purposes of the Sentencing Guidelines, but also perceived prosecutorial abuses and some indications of overreaching. I conclude that given the breadth of prosecutorial discretion and the deferential, limited nature of judicial review, the guidance that the DOJ provides will chiefly define the future development of its emerging structural regime for deterring organizational crime.

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