[JURIST] Outgoing Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website; JURIST news archive] presented a bill Thursday that would prevent federal prosecutors from exerting what he sees as excessive pressure on companies and executives in fraud investigations. Specter said he hoped the move would put pressure on the US Justice Department [official website] to refrain from using tactics he has described as coercive and even unconstitutional in the prosecution of white collar crimes. The current procedures used in such investigations were written in the wake of major corporate fraud scandals early in the decade.
In a flurry of eleventh-hour activity since early November elections made it clear that the Republicans would lose control of the Senate and therefore Specter would lose his Judiciary Chairmanship, Specter has nonetheless introduced bills to allow surveillance of domestic terror suspects and restore the habeas corpus rights of military detainees [JURIST reports]. Specter plans to refile his legislation when the Senate reconvenes in January. He has the support of the US Chamber of Commerce [advocacy website] and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website]. According to a spokeswoman, incoming Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] "has serious concerns about the current, coercive policy," but is waiting for proposals from Justice Department. AP has more.