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The Texas judge that recently signed the plea deal in which ZTE Corp. admitted to a conspiracy to sell U.S. surveillance equipment to Iran took what appears to be an unprecedented step: He rewrote the plea agreement to name his own independent corporate monitor, and to substitute his court’s authority for that of the U.S. Department of Justice in several instances.

“I’ve never seen this before,” veteran attorney Benjamin Britz of Hughes Hubbard & Reed in Washington D.C, whose practice focuses on anticorruption and internal investigations, said of the judge’s actions.

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