Boo Hoo for Pasternak & Leighton
I feel sympathy for anyone wrongly accused of a crime, but the following letter in the WSJ doesn’t make me feel any extra sympathy for them:
In a free country a government agency should not be able to destroy people without due process. Once the SEC initiated a Wells Notice process against Mr. Leighton it became impossible for John Leighton to work in the securities industry. The SEC drained his life savings by making it unbearably expensive to defend himself. It tried to force him out of the securities industry and put his firm out of business before he had a chance to defend himself. While we are very pleased that truth has prevailed, the sad fact is that John Leighton lost three years of his life defending himself that he can never recover. He lost three years of work that he can never recover. He spent large amounts on defense costs and supporting his family while unemployed that he can never recover. His family has suffered financially and emotionally and can never fully recover from that. His good name has been smeared and he can only hope that this decision will over time restore his name.
Under our current system, you are guilty of SEC charges until you prove yourself innocent. That is wrong.
People falsely accused of a variety of crimes – murder, drug charges, etc. – also see their lives destroyed and their life savings decimated. These defendants should consider themselves lucky to have had the financial wherewithal to mount a successful defense. Had they been early 20’s black males falsely accused of drug trafficking and stuck with a public defender, they’d likely have cut a plea bargain.
I bet the WSJ won’t consider it a “happy ending to a sad story” the next time a falsely accused poor drug dealer is acquitted.
Hat tip to Ted at Overlawyered.