Trials & Litigation

Judge Ponders Possible Dismissal of Obstruction Case Against Ex-Glaxo In-House Counsel


At an action-packed pretrial hearing yesterday, a federal judge indicated that he may be considering dismissing the indictment (PDF) in an obstruction case against a former in-house counsel of GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

At issue in the Greenbelt, Md., case is whether the grand jury that issued the indictment against Lauren Stevens was properly instructed concerning the advice of counsel defense on which she is relying, Corporate Counsel reports.

Her lead lawyer, Reid Weingarten, says Stevens worked closely with King & Spalding in deciding how to respond to Food and Drug Administration requests for information about the company’s promotion of off-label uses for its antidepressant Wellbutrin SR. However, a member of the panel who asked prosecutors about whether her “getting direction from somebody else” about how to handle the response to the FDA was relevant was told this information would come into play only at trial, not during grand jury deliberations, the article says.

U.S. District Judge Roger Titus seemingly agreed with Weingarten that the answer was mistaken and may create “grave doubt” about whether the case can proceed. However, it appears that the government might still be able to seek another indictment is this one is dismissed.

In a final jolt, Weingarten said the defense may ask for a bench trial. Titus then asked the feds to be ready to tell him, next week, whether they would agree to that.

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Glaxo Lawyer’s Defense in Criminal Case Raises Tricky Privilege Issues for Company, Experts Say”

ABAJournal.com: “King & Spalding Advised Ex-Glaxo Lawyer Charged With Obstruction, Defense Filing Says”

Bloomberg: “Indicted Ex-Glaxo Lawyer Says Prosecutors Misled Grand Jury on Obstruction”

Reuters: “Judge mulls dismissing Glaxo lawyer indictment”

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