North Carolina Law Review

University of North Carolina School of Law

160 Ridge Road

Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Why Do Prosecutors Say Anything? The Case of Corporate Crime

March 21, 2018

96 N.C. L. Rev. 823 (2018)


This Essay explores various reasons why prosecutors might choose to speak about their cases, particularly in the area of corporate criminal enforcement, and especially as the DOJ has been increasingly doing so in that field over the last two decades. Examining the phenomenon might produce a clearer understanding of the general question of why prosecutors speak. Perhaps more fruitfully, focusing this examination on the sub-field of corporate crime might produce new insights into how to evaluate normatively what the DOJ is doing in the way it presents its corporate enforcement activities—i.e., whether its publicity efforts are helpful and, if so, whether and how these efforts could be expanded or improved.


After all, as with so much of the literature in this field, the unlikelihood of legislative reform of the practice of American corporate criminal liability leaves us necessarily addressing questions of how to optimize enforcement under current practice—by directing our efforts almost entirely to what prosecutors do. There may be little to gain, in terms of law reform or novel insight, by publishing more laments about that fact. 



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