Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Mon 6/26 - Audit the Rich, Coinbase Small Win, Special Counsel Wants to Delay Trump Docs Trial, Hunter Biden Case not Stymied and Major Fentanyl Suit

Mon 6/26 - Audit the Rich, Coinbase Small Win, Special Counsel Wants to Delay Trump Docs Trial, Hunter Biden Case not Stymied and Major Fentanyl Suit

We have a new study on where audit money should be directed, Coinbase wins at SCOTUS, Special Counsel wants to delay Trump documents trial, Hunter Biden case wasn’t stymied and a major fentanyl suit.

On this day, June 26th, in legal history, the Statute of the International Court of Justice was signed, establishing the International Court of Justice at The Hague. 

The history of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) can be traced back to its predecessor, the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was established under the League of Nations in accordance with Article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Council of the League of Nations was responsible for developing the idea of the PCIJ and formed an Advisory Committee of Jurists in 1920 to prepare a report on its establishment. A draft scheme was subsequently presented to the League's Assembly and was unanimously adopted as the Statute of the PCIJ in 1920.

While the PCIJ operated independently from the League of Nations, it played a crucial role in resolving contentious cases and providing advisory opinions from 1922 to 1940. In 1946, the ICJ was established with its own Statute, building upon the foundations of the PCIJ's Statute. This process involved redrafting the statute with adjustments based on historical experience. The United Nations Committee of Jurists and the Fourth Committee of the United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO) in San Francisco in 1945 were responsible for finalizing the ICJ Statute.

One significant innovation introduced by the ICJ Statute was its close relationship with the United Nations Charter, which provided a structural interrelationship between the ICJ and the broader framework of the United Nations. Significantly, the ICJ defines its role in the judicial settlement of international disputes, as the judicial organ of the legal order of the international community as a whole, and not only of the contending parties appearing before it.

Here is kind of a mini-column Tuesday, on a Monday. I wrote in the Week in Insights for Bloomberg on a recent study that had some interesting implications for where the IRS should be directing its influx of capital under the Inflation Reduction Act.

Recent research from Harvard University reveals that auditing high-income individuals yields a higher return, with a $1 investment in audits of the top 10% income bracket resulting in a $12 return, compared to $5 for those below the median income. These findings hopefully have policy implications for the IRS and will impact tax practitioners and taxpayers.

Week in Insights: Harvard Study Shows Auditing the Rich Pays Off

The US Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Coinbase Global Inc., affirming the company's ability to direct customer and employee disputes into arbitration. The decision, with a 5-4 vote, states that lawsuits filed in federal court must be paused while the defendant pursues an appeal to send the case to arbitration. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the court, argued that allowing district courts to proceed with pre-trial and trial proceedings during an ongoing appeal would undermine the advantages of arbitration. Business groups supported Coinbase, claiming that permitting litigation to continue would impose unnecessary costs, while consumer advocates argued that judges should have discretion in deciding which claims can proceed during an appeal. The case involved claims against Coinbase by Abraham Bielski regarding losses due to a scammer and allegations of inadequate disclosure in a Dogecoin sweepstakes. The ruling reinforces the power of companies to enforce arbitration clauses and the benefits associated with arbitration agreements in various industries, including the cryptocurrency sector.

Coinbase Wins at Supreme Court as Ruling Backs Arbitration (1)

U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith has requested a delay in the start of former President Donald Trump's trial on charges of willful retention of classified government records and obstruction of justice. Smith asked the federal judge to push the trial start date from August 14 to December 11, citing the need for reasonable time for effective preparation. Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election, pleaded not guilty to the charges in a federal court in Miami. The trial will adhere to the Classified Information Procedures Act, which governs the handling and disclosure of classified evidence. Smith stated that the delay is necessary to allow Trump's lawyers to obtain security clearances and review classified documents. While Trump's lawyers do not oppose scrapping the August 14 start date, they are expected to file a motion opposing the proposed schedule.

US special counsel seeks delay to start of Trump documents trial until December | Reuters

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has denied allegations made by an Internal Revenue Service whistleblower that the investigation into Hunter Biden's tax affairs was impeded by the Justice Department. Garland stated that U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who was appointed by former President Trump, had complete authority to make charging decisions on his own regarding Hunter Biden's case. Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of willfully failing to pay income taxes. The charges were revealed in a court filing by Weiss's office, and Hunter Biden has agreed to plead guilty to the charges. Republicans have criticized the plea deal, claiming it is a lenient arrangement. A transcript of an interview with an IRS agent involved in the probe, Gary Shapley, was released, alleging that the Justice Department delayed the case. Shapley claimed that Weiss sought permission to bring charges from anywhere in the country but was denied by Garland. Garland denied the claim, stating that Weiss never made such a request, and emphasized that Weiss had more authority than a special counsel. Hunter Biden's attorney also defended the thoroughness of the investigation.

U.S. attorney general denies allegations that Hunter Biden tax probe was stymied | Reuters

The U.S. Justice Department has filed criminal charges against four Chinese chemical manufacturing companies and eight individuals for allegedly trafficking the chemicals used to produce fentanyl, a highly addictive painkiller that has contributed to the opioid crisis in the United States. This marks the first time the U.S. has sought to prosecute Chinese companies involved in manufacturing precursor chemicals for fentanyl. China's foreign ministry responded by urging the U.S. to stop using fentanyl-related pretexts to sanction and prosecute Chinese entities, demanding the release of those "illegally arrested." The move comes after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to China, where he emphasized the need for Chinese cooperation to address the fentanyl trade. The indicted companies are accused of supplying precursor chemicals to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, which has flooded the U.S. with fentanyl. The cases aim to disrupt the fentanyl supply chain and highlight the unique threat posed by the synthetic drug. In addition, Blinken announced plans to convene a virtual ministerial meeting to establish a Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats.

US files first-ever charges against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at