Did prosecutors mess up their indictment of former GlaxoSmithKline counsel Lauren Stevens? Her attorneys say so. And now a U.S. judge is considering tossing the charge that she obstructed a government probe of GSK's Wellbutrin marketing. Prosecutors say she falsified and hid documents and made false statements to investigators, during the off-label marketing investigation.
Stevens' lawyer, Reid Weingarten, argued that government prosecutors responded incorrectly to a key grand jury question: Did it matter whether Stevens did what she did on the advice of GSK's outside counsel? Prosecutors said no, that information would only be relevant at trial. Stevens' defense hinges on advice she says she received from the law firm King & Spalding.
The Justice Department attorneys allowed that the government "could have been more articulate and complete" in answering that juror's question, but that it wasn't required "to present the advice of counsel defense to the grand jury," as Bloomberg reports. "It was not the sort of grand jury abuse that warrants dismissal of the indictment," Justice's Patrick Jasperse told the news service.
U.S. District Judge Roger Titus asked prosecutors some tough questions about the grand jury dialogue, Reuters reports. "The question is whether the answer was correct, and if not, what's the remedy?" he said in court. No word on when Titus will issue his ruling, but he hinted at the possibility of tossing this indictment and allowing prosecutors to start over with a new grand jury.