In-House Counsel

Former Drug Company Lawyer Wants No Trial Mention of Lawyers’ Place in Hell

Prosecutors hope to introduce expert testimony on state ethics rules and ethics training materials in the April 26 obstruction trial of a former in-house lawyer for drug maker GlaxoSmithKline.

The lawyer, Lauren Stevens, is accused of obstructing a probe into off-label marketing for the anti-depressant Wellbutrin. The prosecution wants to introduce the ethics materials as evidence to rebut Stevens’ claim that she was acting in good faith and following the advice of outside counsel, Corporate Counsel reports.

But Stevens’ lawyer, William Hassler of Steptoe & Johnson, says the ethics materials are irrelevant and prejudicial. “The government seeks to generate a sideshow that could create the misleading impression that Ms. Stevens is unethical and thus, by implication, guilty of criminal violations,” Hassler wrote in a letter (PDF) to U.S. District Judge Roger Titus of Greenbelt, Md.

Hassler says some of the ethics materials from continuing legal education programs are especially inflammatory, including references to “crooked lawyers” and Dante’s view that lawyers’ place in hell is below that of thieves.

Prosecutors responded that they are willing to consider redacting the Dante reference and others like it.

Prior coverage: “Former Drug Company Lawyer Re-indicted in Wellbutrin Case”

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