Amazing things have been happening in the stock option backdating criminal trial of former Broadcom CFO William Ruehle. First, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney did something that federal judges almost never do. He granted immunity to two witnesses who the defense wanted to call, but who had declined to testify on Fifth Amendment grounds. The government had designated the witnesses as co-conspirators, so their reluctance to testify was understandable. The government plays this game all the time; telling potential defense witnesses that they are targets, which effectively terrorizes them into silence. Well, Judge Carney decided not to put up with it and granted “limited immunity” to former Broadcom General Counsel David Dull and Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli. Presumably this “limited immunity” was derivative-use immunity which in fact is quite broad.
After Carney issued the immunity ruling, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Stolper called Dull’s attorney and told him that if Dull repeated the essentials of his prior SEC testimony on the witness stand, Dull could face perjury charges. Judge Carney rightfully found this to be prosecutorial misconduct and so informed the jury. The government, aware of its massive screw-up, agreed to give Dull ”full immunity” (presumably transactional) in order to avoid outright dismissal of the case. Dull testified last week and Stolper was prevented from cross-examining him. (Another AUSA took over that task.) All in all, a very bad week for the government. Stolper’s threat is the kind of conduct that has long been condemned by federal courts. For some AUSAs Brady refresher courses may not be enough. The Orange County Register has the story here.
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