The Cutting Edge: Current Issues in White Collar Crime and Corporate Governance

Hosted by Professor John C. Coffee Jr. with Judge Jed S. Rakoff and produced by Columbia Law School and The CLS Blue Sky Blog, this new podcast explores current issues in white collar crime and corporate governance with a focus on those that involve significant ethical and professional issues. Episode 1 features former special prosecutor Mark F. Pomerantz.

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Episode 1: “Why Wasn’t Donald Trump Criminally Prosecuted in New York? What Happened and Why?”

Listen above or download a transcript (pdf).

In 2021, Mark F. Pomerantz was appointed as a special assistant district attorney by New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. to assist with that office’s criminal investigation into the personal and business finances of former President Donald Trump. Pomerantz developed evidence that led Vance to authorize a grand jury presentation that was intended to lead to an indictment. But in 2022, new District Attorney Alvin Bragg decided not to pursue an indictment—and Pomerantz resigned

Pomerantz joins host John C. Coffee Jr., Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law, and Jed Rakoff, federal district judge for the Southern District of New York and adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, for an in-depth discussion about the high-stakes probe and the level of confidence prosecutors feel they should have before deciding to indict.

“The rule of law is supposed to extend to the rich and poor alike. . . . It’s a government of laws and not men, and that means the rule of law is for everybody. And I was utterly convinced that if the defendant had not been Donald Trump or the putative defendant, if it had been Joe Blow from Kokomo, we would have indicted without a big debate.” —Mark F. Pomerantz

Stay tuned for new episodes of The Cutting Edge. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Meet the Experts
John Coffee Headshot

John C. Coffee Jr.

A prolific scholar, sought-after speaker, and frequent news commentator, John C. Coffee Jr., Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law, is active in several fields and is a recognized leading authority on securities law, corporate governance, white collar crime, complex litigation, and class actions.

Coffee has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a Life Fellow of the European Corporate Governance Institute and the American Bar Foundation. He has also been repeatedly listed by the National Law Journal on its annual list of The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.

For his work in white collar crime, Coffee was awarded the Donald Cressey Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in 2011. For his work in corporate governance, Coffee received the Allen & Overy Law Prize in 2018 for “The Agency Costs of Activism: Information Leakage, Thwarted Majorities, and the Public Morality,” a paper exploring how the interests of activist investors can conflict with those of other shareholders.

Coffee’s scholarly books include Corporate Crime and Punishment: The Crisis of Underenforcement (2020), Entrepreneurial Litigation: Its Rise, Fall, and Future (2016); The Regulatory Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis with Eilís Ferran, Niamh Moloney, and Jennifer G. Hill (2012); Gatekeepers: The Professions and Corporate Governance (2006); and Knights, Raiders, and Targets: The Impact of the Hostile Takeover with Louis Lowenstein and Susan Rose-Ackerman (1988). 

He also is a co-author or co-editor of widely used casebooks, including Securities Regulation: Cases and Materials, 13th edition (2015); Cases and Materials on Corporations, 8th edition (2013); and Business Organizations and Finance, 11th edition (2010). He has been ranked the most cited legal scholar in corporate and business law. 

Coffee has served as a reporter to The American Law Institute for its Principles of Corporate Governance, which set forth the fiduciary duties of corporate officers and directors. He also served on the Legal Advisory Committee to the New York Stock Exchange and on the Legal Advisory Board to the National Association of Securities Dealers (which formerly oversaw Nasdaq). 

Coffee’s comments on current issues appear frequently in publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times, and he regularly testifies to congressional committees on issues of securities and finance law. He writes a column for the New York Law Journal on securities law and corporate governance. He is a recognized expert on both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Delaware Court of Chancery, the forum in which the vast majority of American commercial disputes are heard. 

At Columbia Law School, where he has taught since 1980, Coffee founded and serves on the editorial board of The CLS Blue Sky Blog, where legal scholars and practicing lawyers write on current issues involving the capital markets. In his role as director of the Center on Corporate Governance, Coffee regularly organizes conferences at which leading experts in finance and law discuss and illuminate current issues in securities law and mergers and acquisitions. He frequently speaks on corporate governance and securities regulation issues in the United States and abroad.

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Jed S. Rakoff

Jed S. Rakoff has served since March 1996 as a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York. He frequently sits by designation on the 2nd and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals. His most noteworthy decisions have been in the areas of securities law and criminal law. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School and New York University School of Law and teaches at University of California, Berkeley School of Law and the University of Virginia School of Law. He has written over 180 published articles, 835 speeches, and 1,800 judicial opinions and has co-authored five books. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and the author of Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free, and Other Paradoxes of Our Broken Legal System (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2021).

Rakoff holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College (1964), an M.Phil. from Oxford University (Balliol, 1966), and a J.D. from Harvard Law School (1969). He clerked for Judge Abraham L. Freedman on the U.S. Court of Appeals, 3d Circuit. From 1973 to 1980, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, the last two years as chief of Business and Securities Fraud Prosecutions. From 1980 to 1995, he was a litigation partner at two large law firms in New York.

Rakoff served on the National Commission on Forensic Science (2013–2017) and as co-chair of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Eyewitness Identification. He served on the New York City Bar Association’s Executive Committee and was chair of the association’s Nomination, Honors, and Criminal Law Committees. He was chair of the 2nd Circuit’s Bankruptcy Committee and of the Southern District of New York’s Grievance Committee and Criminal Justice Advisory Board. He served on Swarthmore College’s Board of Managers, on the Governance Board of the MacArthur Foundation’s Project on Law and Neuroscience, and on the committee on the development of the third edition of the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence. He assisted the U.S. government in the training of foreign judges in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia, Dubai, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute. He is a Judicial Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Criminal Lawyers. He is a member of the board of the Touro Synagogue Foundation and of the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation. Among many other awards, he received in 2018 the Federal Bar Council’s Learned Hand Award for excellence in federal jurisprudence and in 2021 the American College of Trial Lawyers’ Leon Silverman Award for Distinguished Public Service.

Rakoff is married to Dr. Ann Rakoff, a child development specialist. They have three daughters and two grandsons. Rakoff has officiated at over 75 weddings. He is the author of numerous lyrics and humorous poems, several of which have been published. His and his wife’s hobby is ballroom dancing. In 2014, Rakoff was listed by Fortune magazine as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

Portrait of a man wearing a suit and striped tie

Mark F. Pomerantz

Mark F. Pomerantz has a long history of service as a federal prosecutor as well as in private practice at firms large and small. Most recently, he was sworn in as a special assistant district attorney in February 2021 to help lead the investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. into the personal and business finances of former President Donald Trump. In that role, he developed evidence that led Vance in December 2021 to authorize a grand jury presentation that was intended to lead to an indictment; Pomerantz resigned from his position two months later, when Vance’s successor reversed that decision. 

Previously, Pomerantz served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, from 1978 to 1982, where he became chief appellate attorney. He returned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1997 to 1999, serving as the head of the Criminal Division. He has extensive experience as a white collar defense specialist in private practice, including most recently at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which he joined as a partner in 2000. He also served as chair of the New York City Mayor’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption and was previously on the faculty of Columbia Law School. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School, where he was editor in chief of the Michigan Law Review. He was a law clerk for Judge Edward Weinfeld of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and Justice Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court.

About the Series

The Cutting Edge is a production of Columbia Law School and the CLS Blue Sky Blog. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.