We lawyers are problem solvers. And as any problem solver knows, the best time to deal with any problem is tomorrow.
For clients facing criminal charges that don't require remaining in physical custody, this is often a welcome tactic, as the longer a case is delayed, the longer they can remain un-incarcerated. In civil matters, the math that goes into weighing the value of delaying is much different. Fortunately, the recent Epstein debacle out of the Southern District of Florida provides an excellent example to analyze.
Jeffrey Epstein was headed for disaster. A person doesn't leave behind a trail of victims like he did without facing near certain disaster. However, his high-powered team of attorneys were able to successfully delay and squash a federal prosecution that could have resulted in a life sentence, in exchange for agreeing to plea out in state court. Or so it seemed, at the time.
Particularly given how easy Epstein had it after accepting the plea deal, serving only 13 out of 18 months in a special facility, with his own private security, and 12-hours a day work-release, his lawyers got him a deal that should have seemed too good to be to true, even though Epstein is required to register as sex offender for life now.
For the better part of a year, Epstein's attorneys negotiated a non-prosecution agreement with the federal government, that allowed him to accept a plea deal in Florida that let him get away with only serving barely more than a year, and never having to face federal charges.
From the months of negotiating the terms, to the micromanaging of carrying out of those terms, Epstein's lawyers were effective in keeping their client's victims uninformed by the federal government about what was going on. Unfortunately, all that seems to have caught up to Epstein and his team, as it was likely unanticipated the government's failure to meet its obligations to the victims would result in Epstein's deal being rescinded by the court.
The manner of negotiating out the federal non-prosecution agreement, and delaying every step of the way, is something that nearly every lawyer could learn something from (and the recent order lays it all out pretty nicely).
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