Are Business Executives Receiving “Get Out of Jail Free” Cards Despite Evidence? Toyota Case Suggests They Might

Toyota Recalls More Than 2 Million Vehicles In USAlthough prosecutors threatened that Toyota employees would be taken into custody for their involvement in covering up faulty car parts, it doesn’t seem likely that anyone will be held personally responsible. The company was slapped with a $1.2 billion penalty, the largest ever against an auto manufacturer, but no one is facing criminal charges in the matter. However, attorneys said their hands were tied due to challenges with evidence and the difficulty of obtaining testimony from international witnesses.

Burden of Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Although documentation showed the wrongdoings of some executives, the paperwork didn’t necessarily prove that company leaders knew what was happening. One law professor observed that the accusations could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Another U.S. attorney explained that while evidence might be used against a business, the same evidence couldn’t be used against a person, so criminal charges would probably not be filed.

Toyota admitted withholding information from the public about the faulty parts while claiming they were working on correcting the problem. They failed to report acceleration difficulties to customers that later resulted in a San Diego car accident in 2009 when four people lost their lives. The prosecution said that Toyota lied about the problems, claiming they had been resolved when they were not. While they initially submitted a repair order for the defective part, they later canceled it and deleted the paper trail.

Some consumer advocates think that prison for the responsible individuals would stop corporations from committing crimes. A representative with the Consumer Federation of America insisted that those at the top should have been held personally liable. A second law professor explained that the person who wrote the statements might have believed they were true.

Tests for the Admissibility of Evidence

In Is It Admissible?, attorney author Ashley Lipson explains that allowing evidence into court consists of four parts. First, it must be admissible, and a judge can use a wide range of discretion in deciding admissibility. Second, it must be relevant to the case, which is a fairly easy standard to prove. Third, it must be material to the case, which means that it must have a bearing on the proceedings and is a tighter restriction than relevance. Fourth, it must qualify as competent in that it does not violate any additional rules that could exclude the evidence, such as evidence obtained through an illegal search and seizure or an illegally obtained confession.

Designed for use on the eve of trial or at counsel’s table, Is It Admissible? provides everything you need for speedy and specific courtroom action:

  • Direct “yes or no” admissibility answers for each type of evidenceia
  • Quick explanation of the rule
  • Pattern questions for laying foundations
  • Admission strategies for the proponent
  • Exclusion arguments for the opponent
  • Model objection language, with responses
  • Color-coded tabs for quick-reference
  • Detailed topical index and table of cases
  • Coverage of civil and criminal law
  • Strategies for admission and exclusion
  • And much more

The book is full of novel arguments, proven strategies, and successful shortcuts.