On this day, June 13th, in legal history, the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision Miranda v. Arizona.
In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court dealt with four cases involving interrogations of suspects in police custody. In each case, the defendants were questioned in a secluded room without being adequately informed of their rights. The interrogations resulted in oral and written confessions, which were used as evidence in the trials.
The first case involved Ernesto Miranda, who was arrested at his home and interrogated by police officers for two hours. He confessed in writing to the crimes and was found guilty. The Supreme Court of Arizona initially upheld the conviction, but the Supreme Court later reversed it.
In the second case, Vignera v. New York, Vignera was taken to multiple police stations, where he admitted to a robbery during questioning by an assistant district attorney. The confession was presented at trial, and Vignera was convicted. The conviction was upheld without an opinion by the appellate courts.
The third case, Westover v. United States, involved Westover's arrest by local police in Kansas City. After local police interrogated him, FBI agents continued the questioning, resulting in separate confessions to two California robberies. These confessions were introduced as evidence, and Westover was convicted. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.
In the final case, California v. Stewart, the defendant was interrogated multiple times over five days before confessing to a robbery and murder. The statements were used in the trial, leading to Stewart's conviction and death sentence. However, the Supreme Court of California reversed the decision, stating that Stewart should have been advised of his rights.
The main issue addressed by the Supreme Court was whether statements obtained through custodial interrogations should be admissible in court and if safeguards protecting the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination were necessary. The Court held that the privilege applies in all settings where a person's freedom of action is significantly restricted and that procedural safeguards are required.
According to the Court, custodial interrogations create coercive pressures that can undermine a person's will to remain silent. As a result, defendants must be informed of their rights, including the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the right to have an attorney appointed if they cannot afford one.
In its decision, the Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the lower courts in Miranda, Vignera, and Westover, and affirmed the judgment of the Supreme Court of California in Stewart.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump is set to appear in a federal court in Miami to face charges that he violated the Espionage Act by retaining and mishandling classified documents, including top-secret nuclear information and war plans, after leaving office. This is an unprecedented indictment for a former president, with legal experts noting that the U.S. Justice Department has historically treated such cases as extremely serious. The government's challenge will be to demonstrate intent, a crucial element in state-secrets prosecutions. The indictment cites Trump's past statements about the importance of safeguarding classified information and contrasts them with a transcript of a recording where he allegedly acknowledged retaining a classified military plan. The case alleges that Trump unlawfully retained 31 documents with sensitive national security information and more than 300 documents with classified markings. The number and nature of the documents, coupled with allegations of obstruction, strengthen the government's case. Trump's former White House valet and aide, Walt Nauta, is also named as a co-defendant. Trump is facing multiple legal threats as he pursues a second term, including a New York state criminal case over hush money payments. Special Counsel Jack Smith, appointed to lead the federal prosecution, emphasized the importance of enforcing laws protecting national defense information.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to pay $290 million to settle a lawsuit related to its alleged involvement with convicted serial offender Jeffrey Epstein's trafficking activities. The settlement resolves a proposed class action filed by an unnamed Epstein victim. While JPMorgan admits no liability, the bank acknowledges the mistake of any association with Epstein and expresses regret. The settlement does not fully resolve JPMorgan's legal issues, as it still faces a lawsuit by the US Virgin Islands and is engaged in litigation against its former private-banking head, Jes Staley. The settlement represents a step toward justice for Epstein survivors, according to their attorney. The case against JPMorgan was allowed to proceed as a class action, representing women who were abused or trafficked by Epstein during his accounts' tenure at the bank. Deutsche Bank, which took over as Epstein's main financial institution after JPMorgan severed ties, previously settled a similar lawsuit for $75 million. The US Virgin Islands continues its legal action against JPMorgan to prevent future involvement in human trafficking.
The Biden administration's Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have reached an agreement that removes tax regulatory actions from White House review. The memorandum of agreement, effective immediately, replaces a 2018 agreement made under the Trump administration. The new agreement exempts tax regulatory actions from the standard centralized review process of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Previously, tax regulations were not subject to OIRA review, but the 2018 agreement introduced OIRA reviews for tax regulations with certain criteria. The latest agreement aims to expedite the issuance of tax guidance, address backlogs, and facilitate prompt implementation of legislation. Some experts laud the decision, citing the flawed analysis and delays caused by OIRA reviews, while others express concerns about transparency and oversight. The change is seen as a move to streamline the tax-regulatory process and reduce controversy surrounding the review process.
Law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is expanding its presence in the United States by hiring a team of four partners from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. The group specializes in crisis and regulatory risk management, cybersecurity, and congressional investigations. Beth George, a former U.S. Department of Defense official, will lead Freshfields' newly formalized strategic risk and crisis management practice in Silicon Valley. The firm has also added Megan Kayo, a cybersecurity partner, in the same location. In Washington, D.C., Freshfields has welcomed Janet Kim and Andrew Dockham, who focus on regulatory enforcement defense and internal corporate investigations. The move is driven by the growing concerns of clients regarding global regulatory impacts and data breach concerns, as well as Freshfields' international reach and commitment in the United States. The firm has been actively expanding its U.S. presence, with recent hires from other law firms. Wilson Sonsini expressed well wishes for the departing lawyers, and Freshfields has a history of recruiting partners from Wilson Sonsini to build its California office.
Freshfields is perhaps best known for being compelled to pay 10 million euros ($12.1 million) to settle a German case related to the Cum-Ex tax scandal and its involvement with now-defunct Maple Bank. Freshfields itself did not have to participate in the trial of its two former partners who were charged in the case. The Cum-Ex trades exploited German tax laws and resulted in significant lost revenue for the government.
The recent incident involving a lawyer's misuse of ChatGPT to write a brief and its cited case law serves as a cautionary tale not just for legal professionals, but also for tax professionals. The lawyer's mistake highlights the limitations of generative artificial intelligence (AI) but more to the point it is illustrative of the potential risks of relying on such technology without a solid understanding of its capabilities. Large language models like ChatGPT can be convincing but may lack factual accuracy.
Given time, similar cautionary tales will play out in most industries. To illustrate the point, I created two hypothetical tax practitioners and their ill-advised AI ideas. In one case, an accountant uses ChatGPT to reformat data but inadvertently leaks personal information, resulting in a data breach. The lesson here is to never include sensitive information in prompts given to AI owned by third parties.
In the second scenario, a preparer relies on ChatGPT's tax research and receives an incomplete and inaccurate response about alcohol sales tax in Massachusetts. This demonstrates the importance of understanding the nuances of tax law and not relying solely on AI models for accurate information.
The proliferation of large language models with public-facing interfaces has changed the level of research proficiency expected from users. While search engines like Google can help determine the credibility of information sources, AI models like ChatGPT can present incorrect information with an air of expertise, making it difficult to discern their accuracy.
When using language models for research, it is crucial to exercise caution and verify information from reliable sources. AI should be seen as a tool that requires human judgment and critical thinking to ensure accurate and reliable results. It is akin to using Google on “hard mode” – where the results are intentionally reformatted to appear authoritative. Caveat scriptor.