The U.S Department of Justice recently asked Congress to grant it emergency powers as the coronavirus outbreak begins to affect the timing of court proceedings and DOJ’s ability to conduct investigations. Perkins Coie attorneys explore DOJ’s request and the pandemic’s effects on the practice of white-collar criminal defense.
Beth Erin Palmer
The Romaine Risk—Highlights from the 2019 ACI “Food Law” Summit
Imported food contaminants, potential criminal liability for allergen-related deaths, and a growing demand for hemp seed and cannabidiol (CBD) products amidst regulatory uncertainty were all topics of discussion at this year’s American Conference Institute (ACI) Advanced Summit on Food Law Regulation, Compliance, and Litigation, held in Chicago. Representatives from the country’s largest food manufacturers, food and beverage agency regulators, and food litigation experts gathered in April to discuss recent product trends and regulatory developments in the food and beverage space. A few highlights from the conference are discussed below.
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SCOTUS Finds SEC ALJ Appointments Unconstitutional
On June 21, 2018, the Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated opinion in Lucia v. SEC, finding that the manner in which the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) selects its “in-house” administrative law judges (ALJs) violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. In a 7-2 decision, the Court held that ALJs are “inferior officers” and must be appointed by the president or head of the agency, rather than hired by SEC staff through the civil service process. The immediate practical impact of the decision requires that petitioner Raymond Lucia be afforded a new hearing before “a properly appointed official.”
In recent years, capitalizing on what some commentators considered a “home court advantage” for enforcement actions, the SEC began favoring administrative proceedings in which agency ALJs serve as adjudicators rather than judicial proceedings in federal court. An ALJ assigned to hear an SEC enforcement action has the power to issue an initial decision containing factual findings, legal conclusions, and appropriate remedies. The Commission is not required to review the ALJ’s decision, and if it declines to review, the ALJ’s “initial” decision is deemed a final action of the Commission. In practice, most ALJ initial decisions become final without any Commission review; for example, 2016 data revealed that 90% of SEC ALJ initial decisions were not reviewed by the Commission. …
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