A smiley to appear in court!

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Sat Nov 30 21:52:35 UTC 2002

Currently there is an investigation and some suits filed against CSFB (Credit
Suisse First Boston), charging that CSFB has been playing games with its
analyst's reports.

The merits of the case are not relevant to this discussion.  What is relevant
is that what appears to be key evidence is in the form of internal e-mails.
the following e-mail was cited in news reports

<begin quote>
Kiggen's e-mail conveys discomfort with the move. He said he'd keep the
''hold'' rating unless he heard more bad news from Yahoo that evening, ''not
that the [conference] call wasn't scary enough.'' Further, Kiggen noted that
if one of Credit Suisse's rivals won Yahoo's business in the future, ''We
obviously will have missed an opportunity to raise firm's research profile
and credibility; but I'm sure that won't happen.'' The note was ended with
the online shorthand for a wink, a semicolon followed by a closed
<end quote>

quoted at URL

from an article by Beth Healy and Scott Bernard Nelson, Globe Staff,
11/27/2002, reprinted in at least one other newspaper (either the
Philadelphia Inquirer or the Atlantic City Press, I failed to make a clipping
and had to search on-line for the quote).

In this particular e-mail, the wink smiley is an important part of the
sentence, in that it obviously modifies or adds to what Mr. Kiggen is saying.

Imagine this case going to court, and Mr. Kiggen's e-mail being introduced as
a key piece of evidence.  In that case the poor jurypeople are going to have
to make hair-splitting determinations of just what significance is added to
that one sentence by the presence of the smiley.  Don't laugh.  The guilty
verdict in the Arthur Anderson case was reached by the jury's parsing of a
similarly obscure statement by someone at Anderson.

Sort of makes you wish President Clinton were practicing law.  He'd be right
at home convincing a jury of the meaning of that little smiley!

              - Jim Landau

P.S.  I was under the impression that the punctuation symbol ")" was a "close
parenthesis", not a "closed parenthesis".

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