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Discouraging the Idiot's Defense

In upcoming probes, CEOs and other managers of economically failed companies may well plead the "idiot" defense: "I let my company go down the tubes because I knew (or understood) nothing of what was going on." That's a relatively easy defense, which is to say that it should be made more unpleasant.

In certain less developed countries, people who commit crimes because of feeble-mindedness, or are senile generally, are paraded around in a dunce cap for society to see. This results in the infliction of a high level of shame.

CEOs who plead the idiots defense should be put through a comparable amount of unpleasantness and shame. While there might be no legal sanction from their being CEOs again, people will be put on notice NOT to hire them as CEOs.

Given this, there might be some CEOs that are unwilling to use the idiot's defense. They will avoid it by trying to demonstrate that they knew what they were doing (Goldman may be a case in point.) In so doing, they will demonstrate "scienter" (knowledge) of illegal actions. Which will then make them prosecutable.