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September 8, 2009

"Judges Punish Wall Street as Regulators Just Talk About Reform"

The title of this post is the headline of this interesting Bloomberg piece that suggesting that federal sentencing judges are playing a central role in responding to the recent economic crash.  Here is how the piece gets started:

As the White House and Congress debate how to regulate financial firms to avoid another economic crisis, judges have assumed the point position in punishing Wall Street for causing the worst recession since the 1930s.

The executive and legislative branches have been discussing reforms such as more regulation of hedge funds and transparency for derivatives as a response to the financial crisis that began a year ago. As that battle with a reluctant Wall Street inches forward about how to prevent another disaster, judges are taking the first steps toward the same goal, punishing executives and issuing rulings with national impact....

“Judges have lifetime appointments and are freer to act on their conscience than regulators,” said Charles Elson, chair of the University of Delaware’s corporate-governance center. Judges can act more decisively than regulators or politicians because they’re “insulated from the political process,” he said.

Free from the pressures of lobbyists, judges typically refrain from showing emotion or expressing opinions during court proceedings to appear impartial. During sentencings in criminal cases, they sometimes let their hair down about their feelings about the damage Wall Street firms or their executives did.

September 8, 2009 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

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