The Brooklyn Law School Library has placed an order for The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives (Call No. KF9351.E37 2017) by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Jesse Eisinger. The book is a blistering account of corporate greed and impunity, and the reckless, often anemic response from the Department of Justice. The book asks why no bankers were put in prison after the financial crisis of 2008 and why CEOs seem to commit wrongdoing with impunity. The problem goes beyond banks deemed “Too Big to Fail” to almost every large corporation in America—to pharmaceutical companies and auto manufacturers and beyond. Eisinger starts his account with a story that gives the book its title. In the early 2000s, James Comey was the U.S. Attorney in charge of the most important local branch of the Department of Justice, the Southern District of New York, whose jurisdiction covers Wall Street. At Comey’s first meeting with the prosecutors on his team, he asked who among them had never lost a case. Many proudly raised their hands. “My friends and I have a name for you guys,” he said. “You are members of what we like to call the Chickenshit Club.” Comey was challenging them to be aggressive, to risk losing. A character-driven narrative, the book tells the story from inside the Department of Justice. The complex and richly reported story spans the last decade and a half of prosecutorial fiascos, corporate lobbying, trial losses, and culture shifts that have stripped the government of the will and ability to prosecute top corporate executives.
The book begins in the 1970s, when the government pioneered the notion that top corporate executives, not just seedy crooks, could commit heinous crimes and go to prison. The book travels to trading desks on Wall Street, to corporate boardrooms and the offices of prosecutors and F.B.I agents. These revealing looks provide context for the evolution of the Justice Department’s approach to pursuing corporate criminals through the early aughts and into the Justice Department of today. Exposing one of the most important scandals of our time, The Chickenshit Club provides a clear, detailed explanation as to how our Justice Department has come to avoid, bungle, and mismanage the fight to bring these alleged criminals to justice.
On Thursday, November 2, 2017, Cardozo School of Law will host a free event where the author will discuss his book. It will be held from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm in the Third-Floor Lounge at 55 5th Avenue, New York, NY. Register at this link if you want to attend.