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No one can say that Ian Norris goes down without a fight. On Monday, the imprisoned ex-CEO of the British-based Morgan Crucible Co. asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review his criminal conviction. As Norris’s petition notes, it is a case closely watched in legal, business, political, and diplomatic circles on both sides of the Atlantic. His battle began in 2004 when federal prosecutors sought to extradite him from the U.K. to face price-fixing and witness-tampering charges; he fought them off for six years, with his case going to the House of Lords twice. Finally, prosecutors succeeded in bringing him to the U.S. but had to drop the price-fixing count. Norris was the first foreign national ever extradited upon application by the Justice Department’s antitrust division. Prosecutors claimed that Norris orchestrated an elaborate scheme to obstruct a U.S. grand jury investigation into price fixing in the carbon brush industry. He allegedly led the effort to prepare fictitious “scripts” for his colleagues to follow, and created a document-destruction task force. Norris denied the charges. But the company’s outside counsel testified against him, and a year ago a jury in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia found him guilty of witness tampering. In December 2010, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail. Norris then lost an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in March. Among other things, he argued that his attorney-client privilege was breached by the outside counsel. But his petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court is based on a different legal point, specifically “whether a person ‘corruptly persuades’ another by persuading that person to decline to provide incriminating information where the other person enjoys a privilege or right to decline to provide the information.” In other words: where his co-conspirators had the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination, Norris claims he didn’t break the law by asking them not to give incriminating testimony. Christopher Curran, a partner at White & Case in Washington D.C., is Norris’s lead attorney; he has declined comment. The petition states that the issue is ripe for review because four federal court circuits are evenly split on the question. “Here, the jury could easily have believed that the alleged co-conspirators had a ‘legal duty’ to provide incriminating information to authorities, or that persuading a co-conspirator not to provide such information was an ‘unlawful end’ or a ‘lawful end’ accomplished in an ‘unlawful manner,’ ” it says. See also: “Lips Unsealed: Third Circuit Ruling on Privilege Worries Defense Bar”; and “Court to Rule in Case of Imprisoned U.K. Exec That Carries Major Privilege Implications,” CorpCounsel.com, March 2011.

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