Distinguished Jurist Lecture: Hon. Jed S. Rakoff, “The Paucity of Criminal Prosecutions Arising from the Financial Crisis: Unaccountable?”

Time: 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

November 19, 2013

Location: Silverman 245A, Bernard Segal Moot Court Room

Reception to follow. Open to the public.


Jed Saul Rakoff is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He joined the court in 1996 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton and assumed senior status on December 31, 2010. Prior to his appointment, Judge Rakoff was Chief Prosecutor of the Business and Securities Fraud Prosecutions Unit. Before serving as Chief Prosecutor, he was the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore, his M.A. in Philosophy from Oxford-England, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.


Many people believe the financial crisis from which we are still suffering was the product, not just of mistakes and wrong guesses, but fraudulent practices and misrepresentations. Yet few if any high-level executives associated with these alleged misdeeds have been criminally prosecuted.  Bringing to bear his combined experience as a former federal prosecutor, former white collar criminal defense lawyer, and (for the past 18 years) experienced federal jurist, Judge Rakoff suggests that the paucity of such prosecutions may be tied, not just to the facts of any given case, but to disturbing trends in federal regulatory and prosecution policies over the past decade and more.


This program has been approved for 1.0 substantive law credit hours for Pennsylvania lawyers.  CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should bring separate payment of $25.00 cash, or check made payable to “The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania”.

Category: Legal

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

6 Responses to “The Paucity of Criminal Prosecutions Arising from the Financial Crisis: Unaccountable?”

  1. emaij says:

    I wish I could attend this. Thanks for posting.

  2. wally says:

    Who’s to doom, when the judge himself is NOT dragged to the bar?

    • PT says:

      Judges do not bring prosecutions; they only evaluate and adjudge cases that are presented by prosecutors. So, the judge bears no responsibility for the U.S. Department of Justice’s failure to bring prosecutions. The ultimate responsibility for the failure falls on the shoulders of the Department of Justice, the head of which is appointed by the President. It helps to understand how the system works. http://www.justice.gov/ag/about-oag.html

  3. rd says:

    A person made the decision not to record mortgages at the County Clerk’s office, but to just use MERS.

    A person made the decision to robosign thousands of documents illegally using a Notary Public’s stamp.

    A person made the decision to issue mortgages without due diligence or documentation.

    A person made the decision to bundle these mortgages in securities and then sell them to the public.

    A person made the decision not to have the appropriate checks and balances in place to sequester customers’ money separate from the company.

    These are the types of decisions that get made in the financial firms that helped lead to the collapse. There will be paper trails of memo, e-mails etc. where minions were complaining that they didn’t have adequate resources to do the tasks legally or securities were inappropriate and executives ignored the issue entirely or directed them to do something. The little people would roll over very quickly in prosecution and expose the gaping underbelly of senior management if anybody had ever bothered to look.

    Corporations have well-defined chains of authority for financial and policy decisions. It appears that either staff in the financial firms routinely violate them or senior people approve illegal activities. The first would be a SarbOx violation, especially if it was systemic, and the second would likely be outright forgery and fraud.

  4. Arequipa01 says:

    The housing boom and its subsequent collapse were the result of government policy. The Bush regime- and I mean exactly regime although perhaps criminal cabal might be a better option- short-circuited any attempt to rein in the excesses in the mortgage markets and even destroyed Spitzer for having the NAIVE chutzpah to point out the truth. The MERS abomination had the implicit imprimatur of the gang. All the big boys have get out of jail free cards because their financial engineering was one of the ways the Bush torture club disguised the real cost of waging two wars (that have not been won- in fact Bush bribed the western Sunni tribes to get them to ease up-and as far as Afghanistan goes…) and the budgetary devastation of lowering taxes on the very rich (Stephen Schwarzman must still get a chubby when he thinks of George ‘Lips’ Bush).

    Expecting the US govt to prosecute its accomplices is pointless. Worse than pissing up a tree.

  5. Seaton says:

    I believe his paper was printed online in WaPo, 11/12/2013. “Why Have No High Level Executives Been Prosecuted in Connection With the Financial Crisis” is what the title is. WaPo’s article is interesting, “highlights,” but the .pdf of the full paper is more illuminating & nuanced.