Today’s Sun Sentinel printed Florida Foreclosure Defense Attorney Roy Oppenheim’s 300 word commentary :
The South Florida Law Blog shares the longer version with its readers.
A Letter to the Editor:
As the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations continue to grow, and the news embargo concerning such demonstrations has lifted, there seems to be a pervasive and pernicious sense that something is wrong with the State of Democracy, and from this several themes have developed within the protests. While various interest groups are now using these demonstrations as an attempt to bring their particular issues to the forefront, the two issues that are of most interest to me are the following:
If corporations are now to be treated under the eyes of the law more and more like people, thus having similar free speech rights and rights to contribute to political campaigns, then the legal system must adapt and morph to make sure that when corporations, as an enterprise, commit fraud or a crime that not only are individuals punished, but that effectively the corporation, through its bondholders and management, are punished too. In the past, most of the criminal liability has been centered upon individuals within a corporation, and thus a particular individual was removed from the corporation for criminal actions. However, the modern trend within corporations makes this less effective, such as for big banks and Wall Street, which have committed systemic fraud and criminal activity. Such institutions have a sense of arrogance that they are too big to fail, and too big to be governed. The polity needs to re-evaluate what methods and mechanisms are available as a legal and political matter to reign in and govern clearly systemic corrupt behavior either by an entire enterprise or by an entire industry. Obviously what comes to mind is the whole foreclosure fraud crisis that is systemic in nature and has infected and polluted our entire political system. Thus, the question arising is what to do with corrupt enterprises where punishing a few individuals is no longer effective.