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Murder in the Courtroom

Oct
4
2003

If looks could kill, New York lawyer David Brodsky would have been carried out of Frank Quattrone’s courtroom on a slab Friday. And George Boutros would be guilty of murder.
Boutros, perhaps Quttrone’s closest friend, glared at Brodsky through his morning of testimony. It’s a hard, angry stare and it’s stopped hundreds of bankers, lawyers and other tough guys in their tracks. Boutros looks like he could bite the head off a Komodo dragon, he’s that pissed.
Boutros, no doubt, thinks what Quattrone’s cooler-headed mouthpiece Bob Chlopak said outside the courtroom: That Brodsky, former general counsel at CSFB, and the bank were so worried about PR and so concerned about leaks to the Wall Street Journal that they never bothered to tell their employees what to do to protect themselves and to protect the bank.
And I’m not so sure I don’t buy that argument and the assumption that underlies it. What Chlopak is implying is that Quattrone wasn’t sophisticated enough to put together the existence of a federal grand jury sitting in New York and the need to start minding the niceties of the bank’s document policy.
While we’re on the subject, let’s just get down to the real meaning of this so-called ‘document retention policies.’ They’re not meant to encourage people to keep anything. What they are, instead, are lists of what should — at a minimum — be around in case anyone comes looking. Or, as a banker I know put it, if it’s got handwriting on it, it goes. In other words, only the official record is preserved, not what may have actually happened.
But back to Quattrone and the grand jury. I can’t count the number of conversations I had in Silicon Valley throughout 2000 and early 2001 with people who assumed that the investigation wouldn’t amount to very much since it was in New York. Some didn’t understand that the feds have jurisdiction throughout our great nation. Others thought it was nothing more than a silly spat with a bunch of hedge fund guys who weren’t making as much money as they wanted. So it’s conceivable — although he has to come down a peg on the sophistication meter — that Quattrone didn’t realize what he was up against.
John Keker, who is having one whale of a fight with the judge in this case — Friday he stopped by our notebooks to use the words “ploy and cheap shot” — will get to cross-examine Brodsky on Monday. I’ll bet he asks Brodsky — exactly — what it meant to have the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District breathing down your neck. And I’ll bet the answer is “I don’t recall.”
There are way too many lawyers in the case.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 4:50 PM | Permalink

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