Next Milberg Weiss dominoes: Mel Weiss to be indicted tomorrow

My colleague, Fortune editor at large Peter Elkind, has published a piece here reporting the next dominos to drop in the Milberg Weiss investigation: The indictment of name partner and firm founder Melvyn Weiss is expected to be announced tomorrow (Thursday), he reports, while previously indicted name partner Steven G. Schulman is expected to agree to plead guilty.

A quick aside on yesterday’s controversial plea agreement between the government and top defendant Bill Lerach. As reported elsewhere, it is a so-called 11(c)(1)(c) agreement, which means that if the judge approves it, he must order a sentence within the agreed upon range, which here is between 12 months and 24 months. A couple lawyers have commented to me that, despite the “binding” nature of these pleas, judges do, as a practical matter, still have bargaining leverage. That’s because if the judge disapproves such a plea, and says he won’t approve it unless he can impose, say, a 30-month sentence, it’s extremely hard for the defendant to respond by saying, “No, deal’s off, I’m going to trial.” Having crossed the mental Rubicon involved in admitting guilt and beginning to get put everything behind him, it is emotionally difficult to put oneself back into the fighting frame of mind.

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