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Legal Ethics

Consulting Outside Counsel Was Key in Ex-Glaxo Lawyer’s Midtrial Acquittal by Judge

Posted Jun 24, 2011 6:15 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A pleasing personality and a sympathetic judge helped former GlaxoSmithKline in-house counsel Lauren Stevens win acquittal on all six counts during a federal obstruction trial last month.

But the fact that she had relied on advice from outside counsel in withholding material from federal investigators looking into the pharmaceutical company's promotion of off-label use of an antidepressant was seemingly the most important factor cited by U.S. District Judge Roger Titus during his rare midtrial ruling, reports Corporate Counsel.

"Even if some of [Stevens'] statements were not literally true," said Titus, "it is clear that they were made in good faith, which would negate the requisite element [of intent] required for all six of the crimes charged in this case."

Jurors applauded when they learned the judge had stopped the trial and why. But the bruising prosecution, even as it vindicated Stevens, 61, for aggressively representing her client, is likely to have a chilling effect on other in-house counsel, the article notes.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "In Mid-Trial Ruling, Federal Judge Axes Obstruction Case Against Ex-Glaxo In-House Lawyer

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