Public Integrity & Ethics

White Collar & Investigations

Investigations of public officials occupy a unique place in the world of white collar criminal defense. The scandals of the past four decades have created a demand for aggressive enforcement of ethics rules and laws against public officials. The media have an insatiable appetite for reporting the slightest hint that an official is under investigation. And the ability of an official to hold office through an investigation and the publicity that accompanies it is often more important at a given moment than the ultimate goal of assuring that there is no criminal conviction.

Lawyers at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP have a depth of experience in representing government officials and public figures in these sensitive and difficult matters. We have represented high-ranking officials in some of the most highly publicized investigations and prosecutions of the past three decades. We understand the law, the process, and the particular demands that these representations place upon those who are subject to investigation.

Our lawyers develop not just the legal strategies needed to protect our clients’ rights and liberty interests, but also help our clients deal with unfair reporting by the press and false accusations by political opponents. We guide our clients through the complexities and challenges that can arise from multiple, overlapping investigations and, when necessary, defend them in formal proceedings and trials.

As a backdrop to every internal or ethics investigation is the possibility of federal criminal charges. There is almost always more than one investigating authority, and they can be active at the same time. The Public Integrity Section is usually the prosecuting arm of the U.S. Department of Justice Department (DOJ) where public officials are involved, but local U.S. Attorneys also have authority to enforce the same federal criminal laws. Both houses of Congress have their own ethics committees with broad powers to discipline and expel members. All federal agencies have their own inspectors general with broad powers to compel testimony and documents and make referrals to prosecutors. And many states have the same kind of ethics and law enforcement bodies as the federal government.

Zuckerman Spaeder has helped dozens of clients navigate the dangers and hardships that characterize investigations into official misconduct. For our clients, this has meant marshaling the firm’s nationally recognized trial lawyers to defend their rights and liberty in the courtroom. For one of our clients, we engaged in aggressive, precedent-setting pre-indictment litigation that protected him against prosecution. We have assisted other clients in addressing the routine but intrusive demands of government investigators, such as witness interviews, grand jury appearances, and requests for documents.