Shoud Michigan repeal immunity law for drug industry?

“Recently we learned that the Department of Justice will fine Pfizer $2.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties for its illegal marketing of the drugs Bextra, Zyvox, Geodon and Lyrica. This is not only the largest penalty ever levied against a drug company. It is the largest penalty ever levied against any company in American history,” according to a guest columnist in The Detroit Free Press.

“Pfizer and its subsidiary entities — the former Upjohn and Pharmacia — not only promoted these drugs for uses that were not approved by the FDA. They also marketed the drugs for uses that were explicitly rejected by the FDA, primarily because of safety concerns. To the degree that patients were killed or injured as a result, Pfizer’s off-label marketing scheme amounts to negligent homicide.

“That is probably why Pfizer was compelled to plead guilty to felony charges, which is also unprecedented in such contexts. In most instances, companies plea-bargain to misdemeanor admissions, fines are levied, and that is the end of it.”

New monitor approved for Detroit police

U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr. has approved the appointment of Robert Warshaw to oversee implementation of two consent decrees that settled a Justice Department lawsuit against the Detroit Police Department, reports The Detroit News.

“Warshaw replaces Sheryl Robinson Wood, who resigned in July after the FBI discovered text messages that pointed to a personal relationship between her and former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick,” according to The News.

As a bonus, Warshaw’s monitoring is expected to cost $1.1 million per year, about half of what Wood’s monitoring efforts cost. Around the time the Woods-Kilpatrick controversy was coming to light, reports surfaced that questioned Woods’ expenditures.

U.S. Attorney: Detroit corruption probe could take years

In an exclusive interview with The Detroit News, Terrence Berg, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said the federal corruption probe of Detroit government could extend for years.

Berg said the investigation is humming along, despite a perception that “nothing is happening” following several guilty pleas, including that of former Councilwoman Monica Conyers.

Feds’ campaign finance prosecution of Geoff Fieger falling apart?

Maybe so, opines Detroit Free Press scribe Brian Dickerson in his column today.

“Federal prosecutors who want to put him in prison are reeling from the latest blow to their case — and U.S. District Judge Paul Borman could be days away from dismissing it outright.”

Fieger, his partner, Ven Johnson (also charged with campaign finance violations) and their legal team have steadfastly claimed that the prosecution reeks of political motivation. Dickerson writes:

“Fieger has been screaming foul ever since November 2005, when 77 federal agents raided his Southfield law offices and ambushed 30 of his employees and associates at home in search of evidence that Fieger and his partner, Ven Johnson, illegally funneled $127,000 to John Edwards’ 2004 presidential campaign.
“When the pair was formally charged last November, their lawyers countered with a motion asserting that vindictive Bush administration officials had singled them out for selective prosecution, a constitutional no-no.
“Fieger’s lawyer, Gerry Spence, said Justice Department records would prove his client was the target of a government vendetta, and asked Borman to order prosecutors to produce them.”

Last week, Borman obliged with a 31-page opinion, which ordered the U.S. Justice Department to shed some light on the decision to take U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy and two of his underlings off the case seven months into the investigation. Borman also said Fieger and Johnson are entitled to information about other cases featuring big sweeps by FBI agents.

According to Dickerson:

“If the DOJ declines to turn over the information, as prosecutors have hinted it may, Borman could dismiss the case as soon as the next pretrial conference, now scheduled for Friday.
“The government likely would appeal such a dismissal.
“But the wheels of justice turn slowly, and by the time appellate judges are done scrutinizing Borman’s work, a new president and attorney general may be deciding whether U.S. v. Fieger is still worth the candle.
“And though polls suggest otherwise, the way the prosecutors’ luck is going in this case, that new president will be John Edwards.”

Great laugh line, Brian! (Update 1/31/08: Edwards has dropped out of the race and federal prosecutors have provided Fieger with what he was after. Both events occurred shortly after Dickerson’s column and this post were first published – no apparent connection detected.)

Meanwhile, in the January issue of the Michigan Bar Journal, current and former heavyweights of the Michigan Association for Justice have signed on to a letter (scroll to the bottom of the page to find it), which echoes Fieger’s accusations against the justice department:

“Pleadings filed in the case suggest the U.S. Department of Justice undertook the largest criminal investigation of alleged campaign finance violations in U.S. history against the Fieger firm in disproportionate reaction to allegations of technical violations usually handled in a civil manner.
“Utilizing an army of dozens of federal agents, investigators raided firm members’ homes and harassed their families, seized bank records without proper warrants, attempted to compel firm members and their families to reveal who they voted for in presidential elections, and engaged in other such apparently unconstitutional and illegal acts.
“These tactics of intimidation and harassment aimed at attorneys and their families are cause for great concern among the collective bar in Michigan, and among all Americans who value the rule of law and our political freedoms.”

Here are some goodies from the MAJ website:

Fieger Indictment

Motion to Dismiss for Selective and Vindictive Prosecution