Legal Ethics

In Mid-Trial Ruling, Federal Judge Axes Obstruction Case Against Ex-Glaxo In-House Lawyer

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Saying that the government couldn’t prove its case, a federal judge in Greenbelt, Md., has dismissed midway through trial an obstruction prosecution against a former in-house lawyer for GlaxoSmithKline.

“I conclude on the basis of the record before me that only with a jaundiced eye and with an inference of guilt that’s inconsistent with the presumption of innocence could a reasonable jury ever convict this defendant,” said U.S. District Judge Roger Titus today as he axed the case against Lauren Stevens before she even presented a defense.

It is the first time in his more than seven years on the bench, he said, that he has summarily acquitted a defendant, reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

Attorney Reid Weingarten of Steptoe & Johnson, who represents Stevens, called the government’s case weak and said: “If it had been a prize fight, they would have stopped it.”

A Glaxo spokeswoman expressed satisfaction at the acquittal.

The article doesn’t include any comment from the government, which is presumably disappointed with the rare ruling.

Stevens had been accused of hindering an investigation of her employer by making false statements and concealing documents requested by the Food and Drug Administration concerning Glaxo’s marketing of its antidepressant Wellbutrin for off-label uses.

Additional coverage: “Judge Ponders Possible Dismissal of Obstruction Case Against Ex-Glaxo In-House Counsel” “Judge Tosses Indictment of In-House Lawyer Accused in Wellbutrin Probe, Cites Prosecutor Error” “Former Drug Company Lawyer Re-indicted in Wellbutrin Case” “Former Drug Company Lawyer Wants No Trial Mention of Lawyers’ Place in Hell”

Corporate Counsel: “Update: Former Glaxo Lawyer Acquitted!”

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