The World in U.S. Courts: Summer 2013 - Criminal Law | May.14.2013
In a trial charging banks with Anti-Terrorism Act violations, the Eastern District of New York rejected a defendant bank’s attempt to present evidence of foreign bank privacy laws to a jury. The bank made three arguments in support of introducing evidence of foreign privacy laws: first, the laws were relevant to the defendant’s state of mind; second, the jury should be instructed to acquit the bank of one charge, if the bank acted under compulsion of foreign law; and third, the bank was entitled to rebut a permissible adverse inference imposed by the court for non-production of documents.
The court rejected all three arguments. Noting that alleged misconduct took place domestically as well as abroad, the court held that foreign laws were irrelevant to the bank’s state of mind vis-à-vis compliance with United States laws. Considering defendant’s second argument “an invitation to nullification,” the court refused to instruct the jury that it should ignore the Anti-Terrorism Act if the bank complied with foreign law. Similarly, the court denied the bank’s request to rebut an adverse inference with evidence of foreign law, explaining that permitting a rebuttal would defeat the purpose of the adverse inference and confuse the jury.