In 2002, Arthur Andersen, LLP stood trial for obstruction of justice. The prosecution offered several theories as to who at the firm had committed the crime but no one theory satisfied all twelve jurors. In an attempt to break its deadlock, the jury asked whether it could convict i f some jurors thought Person A at Andersen had done it and some thought it was Person B. Following argument, the judge ruled that it could convict.
This article argues that the court's response to the jury's query was wrong as a matter of law and policy. The ruling misconstrues the nature of corporate criminal intent and effectively treats a domestic corporate entity as if it were a rogue nation facing trial for war crimes. Part I offers a brief history of Andersen's rise and fall. Part II examines Andersen's association with Enron and the events that led to Andersen's indictment and trial. Part III analyzes the court's ruling on the jury's question and situates it within the nature of entity guilt. Part IV contextualizes the dispute over collective responsibility within a larger cultural context, including the "War on Crime." The Conclusion and Postscript offer some thoughts on the dangers - both present and future - of our national obsession with war.