July 25, 2013 | Mark Paradies

Houston Chronicle Reports Halliburton to Plead Guilty to Misdemeanor Destruction of Evidence in the Deepwater Horizon Case

A Houston Chronicle story (which has been deleted) should be a wake-up call to all corporate legal departments. You must give specific instructions to everyone in the field about potential evidence.

Reading the testimony during the trial, it seemed to me that the lawyers’ instructions to save everything from Deepwater Horizon could be misinterpreted by the local lab, so that cement that was the same lot as that used on the Deepwater Horizon job but not from there specifically wasn’t “saved” and produced as evidence.

The part that really got them in trouble was that the lab decided to test the similar cement but not to document the test (at least, that’s how I read the testimony). It seemed like they realized they had related cement but, by the letter of what they were told, were not required to provide it to the government.

Now Halliburton is pleading guilty to a felony and they are certainly in more trouble than they would have been had those in the lab asked the legal department … “Do you think this should be turned over as well?”

What policies do you have about evidence preservation? Are your investigators and supervisors well trained? What would your corporate lawyers do? Would they give clear instructions to investigators and supervisors?

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