Why attorneys should not be allowed to run companies

One of the most interesting aspects of the depositions relating to MERS and the foreclosure crisis is the profound difference between the behavior under questioning of the attorneys who run/ran MERS and that of the robo-signing clerks. The clerks were compliant and seemed to be slightly confused by the process, and were generally as cooperative as possible given the behavior of their employers’ attorneys (this video is a decent example).

The behavior of the MERS executives – both of whom were corporate/securities attorneys – was entirely different. Between their partial answers, pointless requests for clarification and outright stonewalling, not to mention the same behavior by their attorneys, what should have been 20-page documents were 300 to 400 pages long.

What the documents make clear is that these men know exactly how to manage the process to ensure that they gave as little information as possible (and in some cases, implicit misinformation). By implication, companies run by attorneys enjoy a strange asymmetry in terms of opportunities and liability for misconduct, since the people in the C-suite will have knowledge of both the loopholes in the regulatory framework as well as the exploitable protections built into the deposition process. The end result is legally sanctioned structural secrecy around the company’s behavior which makes it that much harder for prosecutors.

This campaign video uses clips from the much longer footage of a 1995 deposition of former corporate attorney Rick “Thanks for the Medicare” Scott.  Political intent aside, it’s a good compendium of the absurdity that results from these kinds of situations. It certainly puts “the definition of is” in context.

h/t Antemedius

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