A recently expanded database offering the world’s largest collection of legal documents related to corporate crime is launching today at the University of Virginia School of Law.

The database, called the Corporate Prosecution Registry, allows researchers to view more than 3,000 decision documents, many of them previously hard to find or once shielded from the public eye, while also allowing them to better search specific subject matter and look at overall trends.

UVA Law professor Brandon Garrett, an expert in white-collar crime who authored the book "Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations," built on his previous online database of corporate criminal dispositions, created in association with the book.

"Prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, policymakers and researchers who have long used our database can now rapidly pull detailed information about the specific types of corporate cases that they are interested in," Garrett said. "Whether it is foreign bribery cases or antitrust or securities fraud or pharma cases, domestic companies or foreign, public companies or private, the information about these cases is available." 

More than 2,500 of the documents are corporate plea agreements, Garrett said, while most of the remainder are deferred or non-prosecution agreements. Those deals allow corporations to avoid conviction if they follow a plan of financial restitution and corrective action, often more lenient than would be mandated through the court system. At times, corporations have avoided fines completely.

The database is maintained by UVA Law Business and Empirical Research Librarian Jon Ashley. In a number of cases, Ashley and the Law School had to use the Freedom of Information Act to acquire agreements that should have been made public, but the government at first attempted to seal them.

"For years now we have maintained the go-to resource on corporate prosecutions in the U.S.," Garrett said. "As federal corporate prosecution agreements have exploded in global importance, we have aimed to keep pace."

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Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.