Last week, in a speech delivered at the New York City Bar 4th Annual White Collar Institute, SEC Director of Enforcement Andrew Ceresney provided some detailed updates on the work of his Division's national litigation program.
Ceresney characterized Enforcement's litigation docket as "busy," with approximately 130 litigators in the national trial unit who are currently litigating more than 550 cases. He stated that in FY 2014, which ended September 30, 2014, the agency had 30 cases go to trial -- the largest number of trials in the last 10 years, which included more than five times the number of jury trials than in FY 2013. (Based on my own count of the FY 2014 trials, the SEC's 30 trials included 18 cases in federal court and 12 APs). To date in FY 2015, Ceresney added, the SEC's litigators have already tried 16 cases, and have filed more than 80 litigated actions.
Looking at recent trial results, which include both federal court trials and administrative proceedings, Ceresney stated that SEC litigators have won 22 straight trials (with a trial considered a "win" if the SEC prevailed on any claim against any defendant in the proceeding). These 22 consecutive victories included 7 jury trials, with the last loss in a jury trial occurring in June 2014 (in the case of SEC v. Moshayedi). My research shows that there have been at least two jury trials since June 2014, however, where the jury returned a mixed verdict (SEC v. BankAtlantic Bancorp, Inc. and Alan B. Levan (Dec. 2014) and SEC v. Heart Tronic (March 2015)).
Ceresney pointed out that despite the recent outcry about the SEC's increased use of administrative proceedings, the agency
is still bringing more litigated cases in federal district court than in administrative proceedings. In FY14, for example, the Commission filed more litigated cases in federal district court than in administrative proceedings. And so far in FY 15, more than 60% of our litigated cases were filed in federal district court. Indeed, out of our current overall caseload, about 75% of our pending litigated actions are in federal district court.
Ceresney also noted that since the beginning of FY 2014, approximately 90% of the SEC's litigated insider trading cases had been filed in federal district court.