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NACDL News: Ill-Conceived Legislation Would Undermine Core Tenet of American Criminal Justice

By Ivan J. Dominguez and Ian Nawalinski

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On April 3, 2019, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Corporate Executive Accountability Act, an ill-conceived piece of legislation that would undermine a central tenet of the American system of criminal justice: a “guilty mind” or mens rea must be present before someone can be deemed criminally blameworthy. Sen. Warren’s legislation, among other things, would expressly convert civil liability — which is provable by the lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard — into criminal liability — provable by the higher standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” — and it proposes to do so without regard to intent.

“The concept of transmuting civil negligence into criminal behavior is not only altogether wrong, it is actually dangerous,” said NACDL President Drew Findling. “Corporate executive accountability is not something that can be promoted by abandoning core principles of criminal law that have been part of the Anglo-American legal tradition for centuries. It can only come throug

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  • Media inquiries: Contact NACDL's Director of Public Affairs & Communications Ivan J. Dominguez at 202-465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org
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