Here’s a new defense against stock option backdating charges: Blame the dead guy.

Latham & Watkins partner Steven Bauer told a San Jose, Calif., jury in opening statements Tuesday that his client Carl Jasper shouldn’t be blamed by the government for backdating options at Maxim Integrated Products Inc. Instead, he argued, the fault lies six feet under with John “Jack” Gifford, the founder and CEO of Maxim who died of a heart attack in January 2009.

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