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New Article – The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Jurisprudence Of Shira Scheindlin

Shira A. Scheindlin - Judge, Southern District of New York


The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is a top priority federal statute of significant importance to all businesses and individuals engaged in international commerce. Yet, despite its significance, few FCPA enforcement actions are subjected to judicial scrutiny and most federal court judges go their entire career without an FCPA case being placed on their docket.

However, Shira Scheindlin (who recently retired from being a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York) was an exception and during her time on the bench she refereed more disputed FCPA issues than any other federal judge in the FCPA’s 40+ year history.

My article “The Foreign Corrupt Practice Act Jurisprudence of Shira Scheindlin” recently published in the Syracuse Law Review (click here to download) analyzes the legal decisions of the FCPA’s most prominent jurist.

As discussed in the article, Judge Scheindlin’s written FCPA decisions spanned both criminal and civil enforcement actions and touched upon topics ranging from prima facie FCPA elements, an FCPA affirmative defense, jurisdiction over foreign nationals, as well as related legal issues such as statute of limitations. Moreover, Judge Scheindlin interpreted the FCPA and related issues across the full spectrum of a contested proceeding from motions to dismiss, to motions in limine in advance of trial, to post-trial motions, to sentencing a criminal defendant. 

The article provides rare insight —including through exclusive questioning of Judge Scheindlin—into the mind of the FCPA’s most prominent jurist and contains four parts.

  • Part I provides context for Judge Scheindlin’s spot-on observation that there are “surprisingly few decisions throughout the country on the FCPA.”
  • Part II briefly highlights Judge Scheindlin’s background and overall judicial career.
  • Part III dissects Judge Scheindlin’s many FCPA decisions; and 
  • Part IV extracts common themes from Judge Scheindlin’s FCPA jurisprudence and concludes that Judge Scheindlin’s views on the FCPA—a statute she frequently found ambiguous—were undeniably nuanced.

The jurisprudence of the FCPA’s most prominent jurist matters against the backdrop of some who insist that the FCPA is a clear statute and who view FCPA issues as black and white. 

Do go read the article as well as listen to here an FCPA Flash podcast episode with Judge Scheindlin.

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