The Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear actor Wesley Snipes’ appeal of his conviction on tax charges, and separately issued a ruling in a closely watched securities class-action lawsuit involving Halliburton.
Snipes had petitioned the high court to overturn his conviction, arguing that his trial in Ocala, Fla., had occurred outside the place where he was residing at the time the government argued he was not filing his taxes (see Wesley Snipes Appeals to Supreme Court). His attorneys also argued that the judge at his trial instructed the jury that they had to accept the Florida venue by the standard of the “preponderance of the evidence” when it should have been established “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Snipes was convicted in February 2008 of three misdemeanor charges of failing to file his federal income taxes for 1999, 2000 and 2001. Although he was acquitted of felony charges, he was sentenced to three years in prison. He began the prison sentence last December.
Snipes had written letters to the IRS arguing against the constitutionality of the tax laws, saying he was a “non-resident alien.” His tax advisors and co-defendants Eddie Ray Kahn and Douglas Rosile also received prison sentences.
Separately, the Supreme Court unanimously decided to reinstate a securities fraud class-action lawsuit against Halliburton on Monday.
The justices ruled that an appeals court had erred in rejecting class-action status for the lawsuit.
In the case, the lead plaintiff, the Erica P. John Fund, claimed in 2002 that the company had made various misrepresentations designed to inflate its stock price from 1999 to 2001. They claimed the company, formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney, had understated its liabilities from asbestos-related lawsuits and overstated its construction and engineering revenues along with the revenues anticipated from a merger with Dresser Industries. Both a district court and an appeals court had ruled that the securities fraud plaintiffs had failed to prove “loss causation,” that the defendants’ deceptive conduct had caused the investors’ claimed loss, in order to obtain class certification.
The Supreme Court, in an opinion signed by Chief Justice John Roberts, unanimously held that securities fraud plaintiffs need not prove loss causation in order to obtain class certification. The case will now head back to an appeals court.
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