In a stunning blow to the federal government and its effort to hold some pharma execs accountable for breaking the law, a federal trial judge this morning threw out a closely watched case against former GlaxoSmithKline lawyer Lauren Stevens, who was accused of obstructing an FDA investigation into whether the drugmaker illegally marketed its Wellbutrin SR antidepressant as a diet drug.
US District Court Judge Roger Titus acquitted Stevens without sending the case to the jury, which he called a "first" in his seven and a half years on the bench, according to Dow Jones. "I conclude on the basis of the record before me that only with a jaundiced eye and with an inference of guilt that's inconsistent with the presumption of innocence could a reasonable jury ever convict this defendant," Titus said.
The surprise dismissal comes after the Stevens legal team succeeded in convincing Titus to toss the initial indictment from last November (see here). And after the trial began last week, the Stevens legal team argued she did not attempt to conceal information, but rather did not produce info in the absence of an FDA subpoena. They also maintained she did not make false statements, but that the government misconstrued her communications, and that she repeatedly received advice from the King & Spalding law firm that does work for the drugmaker (read her motion here).
wastebasket courtesy of l marie on flicker