Indicted Lawyer Seeks Dismissal of Sarbox-Related Charges

Lora Bentley

Earlier this month, we wrote about a Greenwich attorney who is facing obstruction charges -- brought under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 -- for destroying evidence related to a child pornography investigation.


Prosecutors allege that he destroyed a laptop owned by his then-client, Christ Church, that contained child pornography. By doing so, they argue, he obstructed the investigation that led to the conviction of a church staff member.


Last Friday, Guardian Unlimited reported that Philip Russell has filed a motion to dismiss the charges related to Sarbox. Noting that the provisions under which he was charged were intended to prevent document shredding in the event that a corporate securities or accounting fraud investigation is foreseeable, he argues that applying it to a child pornography investigation is "overreaching" on the part of the government. Such overreaching, he says, is a slippery slope:

A parent who finds pictures of "naked boys" in his/her child's backpack would also face a 20-year federal felony for obstruction ... if he/she throws the pictures out to insulate the child from future legal difficulties.

We're not sure the results would be quite that extreme, but once again, the situation does demonstrate the ever-present unintended consequences of the hastily enacted legislation.

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