Thursday, October 04, 2007

U.S. v. Bussell (9th Cir. - Sept. 27, 2007)

The legacy of the Bussell family continues.

This is a memorable set of cases. Which, at this point, pervade not only the F.3ds, but also the Cal. App. 4ths. The underlying fact pattern involves a rich married couple of doctors who liked to engage in sophisticated (as well as not-so-sophisticated) ways to evade taxes and who had the all-too-eager help of several lawyers in that regard. The lawyers pled guilty to conspiracy and attempted tax evasion, ratted out their clients, and then a plethora of civil and criminal litigation followed. In all of which, the members of the Bussell family behaved precisely how you'd expect them to behave, which is to say: badly. Made exceptionally memorable by the unusual fact that, during jury deliberations in their criminal trial, the husband took a header out the window of his hotel room. Which is one way -- though not a very good one -- to avoid a conviction.

I previously commented, back in 2005, on the wife's initial appeal of her conviction to the Ninth Circuit. And didn't have many nice things to say about Ms. Bussell. Then, back in March of this year, I said even less nice things about both Ms. Bussell and other members of her family in connection with their unsuccessful appeal in front of the California Court of Appeal in which the trial court had -- totally properly -- granted terminating sanctions against the Bussells.

Today, Ms. Bussell again appears before the Ninth Circuit, which is again forced to address the propriety of her sentence in the criminal case. Which, at 36 months (plus a huge order of restitution), is pretty darn slight, in my mind. And Ms. Bussell (again) mostly loses, though she does obtain a token victory in connection with a particular trust deed.

Hopefully this will be the last we hear from the Bussells. I've seen more sympathetic parties. At cockfights.