US Supreme Court Vacates Andersen Verdict

bicker

DIS Veteran<br><img src="http://www.wdwinfo.com/di
Joined
Aug 19, 1999
And ask yourself, "Why the heck did thousands of innocent, hard-working people have to have their lives turned upside down, just because the American public wanted to hurt someone, anyone, regardless of culpability?"
 

JimB.

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 18, 1999
Agreed. The Andersen firm was literally destroyed by this verdict, with over 23,000 people losing their jobs as a result.

It sucks. It's not just "getting even with the rich". It's putting folks like "us" out of work.
 

ilovedale3

<font color=blue>It's a secret how I <b>really</b>
Joined
Oct 10, 2003
A lot of good overturning the ruling does now. Now if my best friend could just go back in time and get her job back.... :rolleyes:
 

Doctor P

<font color=navy><font color=navy>Chocolate covere
Joined
Jan 24, 2000
My understanding is that they overturned the verdict, but that they can still be retried as there is some belief that fraud could have still be proven in absence of the errors made. They were not found innocent by virtue of this ruling by the Supreme Court, but I agree that this is a mistake the court should have never made.
 

Professor Mouse

DIS Veteran
Joined
Nov 6, 2004
The decision was a reverse and remand and so Andersen could be retried. However, the key to the case was the extremely favorable jury instructions that judge gave. I doubt that Andersen would have been convicted if the correct instructions had been used.

It is sad. Andersen was one of the best of the major accounting firms. I knew a large number of people at that firm and it was sad to see it close.
 

JoeEpcotRocks

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
As an accountant I am sad for Andersen.

I am also sad for the many who lost their jobs.

But in reality, Andersen in many ways brought it upon themselves by losing the "independence" that auditors are supposed to have.

In 1980, I was employed as a financial accountant for a utility company. Andersen was the "independent" auditors for our ceritified financials (including annual reports and SEC reports as a publicly traded company). Well, many of us in the accounting depts. were amazed at how many former Andersen employees were in high levels of our company (CFO, Vice President of the entire co., Controller and a few acctg. supervisors). Not saying any of these people were dishonest but it gave the appearance of a "good old boy (and gal) network" instead of the independence which was supposed to very important, both in actuality and appearence.

Over time Andersen and other acctg. firms became more and more involved in consulting for the very companies they audited. Although there was supposed to be a "wall" and intentions were good, human nature and big money can certainly erode walls or good intentions.

Now, at least in part to the Andersen fiasco, rules on being hired by a client and related disclosures I very strict.

I don't blame the courts in the case, the market place was tougher than any court would be. Yes, the public was upset at Anderson, but as an accountant and an investor, I was upset too. Again, I feel for those innocents who lost their jobs - but the fact is their company let them down - not the public or the courts.
 

ThAnswr

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 24, 2002
JoeEpcotRocks said:
As an accountant I am sad for Andersen.

I am also sad for the many who lost their jobs.

But in reality, Andersen in many ways brought it upon themselves by losing the "independence" that auditors are supposed to have.

In 1980, I was employed as a financial accountant for a utility company. Andersen was the "independent" auditors for our ceritified financials (including annual reports and SEC reports as a publicly traded company). Well, many of us in the accounting depts. were amazed at how many former Andersen employees were in high levels of our company (CFO, Vice President of the entire co., Controller and a few acctg. supervisors). Not saying any of these people were dishonest but it gave the appearance of a "good old boy (and gal) network" instead of the independence which was supposed to very important, both in actuality and appearence.

Over time Andersen and other acctg. firms became more and more involved in consulting for the very companies they audited. Although there was supposed to be a "wall" and intentions were good, human nature and big money can certainly erode walls or good intentions.

Now, at least in part to the Andersen fiasco, rules on being hired by a client and related disclosures I very strict.

I don't blame the courts in the case, the market place was tougher than any court would be. Yes, the public was upset at Anderson, but as an accountant and an investor, I was upset too. Again, I feel for those innocents who lost their jobs - but the fact is their company let them down - not the public or the courts.

This may be the first and only time, but I totally agree with JER.
 

bicker

DIS Veteran<br><img src="http://www.wdwinfo.com/di
Joined
Aug 19, 1999
I couldn't agree less with JER. The travesty here was that our judicial system allowed the public's mob mentality to affect their proceedings. Justice wasn't served -- vengeance was served.
 

Tigger_Magic

I am opinionated, independent-minded, self-righteo
Joined
Mar 18, 2005
bicker said:
And ask yourself, "Why the heck did thousands of innocent, hard-working people have to have their lives turned upside down, just because the American public wanted to hurt someone, anyone, regardless of culpability?"
Maybe thousands of innocent, hard-working people had their lives turned upside down because a few people did something wrong?

The SC found only that the judge's instructions to the jury "at trial were too vague for jurors to determine correctly whether Andersen obstructed justice." So the conviction was overturned not because the evidence did not show wrongdoing, but because the jury instructions were not clear.

One can speculate about what might happen given a new trial, same evidence and clearer jury instructions. But what is telling to me is that the court had to find something like the judge's instructions to overturn the conviction, not something like a lack of evidence of wrongdoing.
 

bicker

DIS Veteran<br><img src="http://www.wdwinfo.com/di
Joined
Aug 19, 1999
Tigger_Magic said:
Maybe thousands of innocent, hard-working people had their lives turned upside down because a few people did something wrong?
Nope. It was the general public's irrational insistance on exacting a pound of flesh whenever circumstances can be twisted to that end, and how such mob mentality rewards institutions that help deliver that grizzly prize. Even if it later turns out that there is evidence to suggest that, as you propose, a "few people" actually did do something wrong (which given the current circumstances, it would be irresponsible to assume), it would never have warranted the hatchet-job that harmed so many honest, hard-working people.

Nope, Tigger. All of us in the general public have to take responsibility for allowing the institutions of society to enable satisfaction of the baser instincts of some. While it might be personally soothing to say, "Well I didn't do it," or "They made me do it," it doesn't absolve us of the blame for crafting a society like this, one that eats good people up, nor absolve us of the responsibility of working to change things for the better, every day.
 

Tigger_Magic

I am opinionated, independent-minded, self-righteo
Joined
Mar 18, 2005
bicker said:
Nope. It was the general public's irrational insistance on exacting a pound of flesh whenever circumstances can be twisted to that end, and how such mob mentality rewards institutions that help deliver that grizzly prize. Even if it later turns out that there is evidence to suggest that, as you propose, a "few people" actually did do something wrong (which given the current circumstances, it would be irresponsible to assume), it would never have warranted the hatchet-job that harmed so many honest, hard-working people.
Maybe I missed the point in the SC ruling that overturned the conviction because there was no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of AA. :confused3 The reality is that a jury listened to the evidence and found them guilty of commiting a crime. Now, the SC overturns the conviction based solely on the judge's instructions, not based on a finding that the evidence in the case did not support a finding of guilt.

I think you give the "general public" way too much power to be able to bend and twist the justice system to its will.
Nope, Tigger. All of us in the general public have to take responsibility for allowing the institutions of society to enable satisfaction of the baser instincts of some. While it might be personally soothing to say, "Well I didn't do it," or "They made me do it," it doesn't absolve us of the blame for crafting a society like this, one that eats good people up, nor absolve us of the responsibility of working to change things for the better, every day.
I find it odd that some would blame the "general public" for the demise of AA when it was AA that commited the crimes in the first place. This is the sort of thinking that would excuse any criminal behavior because of the influence of "society in general."
 

bicker

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Joined
Aug 19, 1999
Tigger_Magic said:
The reality is that a jury listened to the evidence and found them guilty of commiting a crime.
No. According to the Supreme Court, the jury found them guilty of committing actions that were not crimes.

Tigger_Magic said:
I think you give the "general public" way too much power to be able to bend and twist the justice system to its will.
Not at all. The general public definitely has that power.

Tigger_Magic said:
I find it odd that some would blame the "general public" for the demise of AA when it was AA that commited the crimes in the first place.
You're doing it yourself: First and formost, what we know now is that AA committed actions that are not crimes. We have no idea if anyone at AA committed crimes or not. Second, didn't you allege earlier that "a few people" committed crimes -- now you're saying the whole company did. See how you've demonized thousands of people for the actions of a few, actions which, again, have been found not to be crimes.

Tigger_Magic said:
This is the sort of thinking that would excuse any criminal behavior because of the influence of "society in general."
Not in the slightest. Criminal behavior should be punished appropriately. That doesn't mean lynch mobs are justified, or pogroms against whole groups of people because a few of them may have done something wrong.
 

JoeEpcotRocks

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
The verdict that was overturned was regarding charges for witness tampering and document destruction, not AA's fudiciary responsibility - where it failed miserably. This is the main part that the public is hostile about.

Not saying public or mob mentality should rule. But to give an example, if a restaurants fullfills its legal requirements (re health & safety) but gives the customers bad food and service, he's going under. AA did not even fulfill its fudiciary responsibilites as an "independent :rotfl: " auditor. A public accounting company that loses its appearence of integrity will be taken down by the market place (the verdict was secondary).

In essense, too many public accounting firms over the years were grading their own papers - since they had former employees working for their clients in accounting areas and were doing heavy consulting work for those very same clients, too. It helped lead to the Enron fiasco for AA and it was not AA's first offense. :sad2:

Not trying to bash my fellow accountants in my above and past post (and many innocent accounting employees did suffer from their own company's wrong-doing) - but the AA fiasco was a big reality-check time for public accounting.
 

brerrabbit

Sixth Generation Native Texan
Joined
May 12, 2000
So many times in life crimes go unpunished because of procedural errors during a trial. It's the price we pay for living in America under our form of Democracy. It's a price I am willing to pay at times for the freedoms we are guarenteed. Very rarely even though errors are made in the court procedings the verdict comes out right. The judge in the Anderson case may have made mistakes in giving the jury instructions but beleive me, Anderson was guilty of a lot of things that they were never tried for. I feel for all the people that lost their jobs in the aftermath. I know their pain because as an ex Enron employee I personally lost over $200,000. But as an ex Enron employee I can tell you that Anderson had gone way over the line as an independent auditor. They were granting favorable decisions to Enrons actions on the audit side in order to garner consulting contracts on the other side. Anderson was well paid for their part in the Enron fiasco. Yes Anderson employees were hurt but before the ruling was overturned justice had gotten it right and found the right people guilty. I only hope as the trials of Lay, and Skilling approach that the justice system gets that right to.
 

Bob Slydell

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 25, 2004
brerrabbit said:
So many times in life crimes go unpunished because of procedural errors during a trial. It's the price we pay for living in America under our form of Democracy. It's a price I am willing to pay at times for the freedoms we are guarenteed. Very rarely even though errors are made in the court procedings the verdict comes out right. The judge in the Anderson case may have made mistakes in giving the jury instructions but beleive me, Anderson was guilty of a lot of things that they were never tried for. I feel for all the people that lost their jobs in the aftermath. I know their pain because as an ex Enron employee I personally lost over $200,000. But as an ex Enron employee I can tell you that Anderson had gone way over the line as an independent auditor. They were granting favorable decisions to Enrons actions on the audit side in order to garner consulting contracts on the other side. Anderson was well paid for their part in the Enron fiasco. Yes Anderson employees were hurt but before the ruling was overturned justice had gotten it right and found the right people guilty. I only hope as the trials of Lay, and Skilling approach that the justice system gets that right to.

So, in other words, you lost a lot of money, so who cares if thousands of other innocent people (at AA) lost jobs -- you want justice and someone's gonna pay?

Nope, no mob mentality there. :)
 

Tigger_Magic

I am opinionated, independent-minded, self-righteo
Joined
Mar 18, 2005
Bob Slydell said:
So, in other words, you lost a lot of money, so who cares if thousands of other innocent people (at AA) lost jobs -- you want justice and someone's gonna pay?

Nope, no mob mentality there. :)
So better that a corporation that was found guilty of committing crimes get off scot free, so that some can feel a sense of vindication? One side yells mom mentality while the other yells about perverted justice.
 

Bob Slydell

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 25, 2004
Tigger_Magic said:
So better that a corporation that was found guilty of committing crimes get off scot free, so that some can feel a sense of vindication? One side yells mom mentality while the other yells about perverted justice.

What corporation was going to get off scot free? Enron execs are being prosecuted (albeit slowly) and the lead partner on the engagement, Duncan, pled guilty to charges. Why the need to bring down the rest of the firm with him? The changes that have taken place since all this went down could have been accomplished without crushing an entire firm and putting tens of thousands of people out of work.
 

Tigger_Magic

I am opinionated, independent-minded, self-righteo
Joined
Mar 18, 2005
Bob Slydell said:
What corporation was going to get off scot free? Enron execs are being prosecuted (albeit slowly) and the lead partner on the engagement, Duncan, pled guilty to charges. Why the need to bring down the rest of the firm with him? The changes that have taken place since all this went down could have been accomplished without crushing an entire firm and putting tens of thousands of people out of work.
As has been pointed out, the trial was not the primary or sole precipitator of AA's demise. The company chose a path that led to its demise by self-inflicting a fatal wound on its integrity as an "independent" accounting/auditing company. As with a company I worked for that wound up bankrupt and defunct, the driving factor became the bottom line/profit margin. Just like AA, our company started shooting corporate integrity in the foot and then, as profits and stock price continued to climb, the gun was aimed higher and higher, continuing to shoot, until the wounds became fatal.

I don't blame the thousands who lost their jobs because of the crimes of the corporate leadership. I've been there, through that and managed to recover. I hold our corporate leadership responsible for the stupid, profit-above-everything-else mentality that consumed the company. Same with AA.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. No one was ever promised that life would always be fair and good all the time.
 

brerrabbit

Sixth Generation Native Texan
Joined
May 12, 2000
No. The point of my post is simply this, crimes were commited. Unfortunatley they were committed by the leaders of a specific company. In this case AA. I am sorry that the employees who had nothing to do with the decisions that lead to the conviction were hurt. However, if I read your logic to it's logical conclusion then for the sake of AA employees no one in AA management should be tried or convicted in order to save all the jobs. I saw what went on at Enron, I personally know people who raised the red flag at Enron and as a result they lost their jobs (prior to the collapse). Illeagal and questionable things were happening and Enron and AA knowingly kept those issues silent. You see the supreme courts ruling as a vindication of AA and that had those instructions not been given they would have never been convicted. I on the other hand feel strongly that they were wrong and that even if the instructions weren't presented in the way they were they would have been convicted. Remember that AA's involvement in Enron was not the first time they had been questioned about their practices. They had several instances of questionable practices and allegations of improprieties prior to Enron. They had already suffered the lose of numerous clients and gone through layoffs. The trial and conviction was the straw that broke their back and ended AA completly. Even if they had won the case the chances of them surviving as a ongoing concern was questionable. Many if not most of the people who lost their jobs would have still been out of work. Do not think that I do not have sympathy for those people, I do. The collapse of Enron and the downsizing of the energy trading market cost me two years of my life as I was without work for a significant portion of that time. If I sound slightly bitter about it, well I won't lie, I am. However wrong is wrong. Do the crime, do the time.
 

bicker

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Joined
Aug 19, 1999
So, in other words, you lost a lot of money, so who cares if thousands of other innocent people (at AA) lost jobs -- you want justice and someone's gonna pay?

Nope, no mob mentality there. :)
So better that a corporation that was found guilty of committing crimes get off scot free, so that some can feel a sense of vindication?
No: Better that those who did something wrong get punished, and the others are not punished.

One side yells mom mentality while the other yells about perverted justice.
Mom has nothing to do with it :) and neither does perverted justice. Justice demands that only those who did something wrong get punished.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
And sometimes an irrational system causes bad things to happen to good people -- an irrational system that can be fixed by making those that distort or sensationalize accountable for the damage they cause.
 









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