Chapter Nine: How to Stay On CourseThe Role of Continuous Learning and Knowledge ManagementIntegrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.—Samuel Johnson (1709–1784)In March 2002 international accounting giant Arthur Andersen was indicted for obstruction of justice in connection with shredding documents related to the collapse of Enron Corporation. The indictment specifically alleged that Andersen “did knowingly, intentionally and corruptly persuade . . . other persons, to wit: [Andersen] employees, with intent to cause” them to withhold documents from, and alter documents for use in “official proceedings, namely: regulatory and criminal proceedings and investigations.” The case was tried before a jury, and on June 15, 2002, Andersen was found guilty.While Andersen spent the next three years appealing the criminal conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, its reputation lay in ruins. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have good news and bad news,” quippedPresident George W. Bush in an after-dinner speech. “First, Saddam Hussein has agreed that we can count hisweapons of mass destruction. But he wants Andersen to count them.” In May 2005 the high court held that the jury instructions leading to Andersen’s criminal conviction were “flawed in important respects” because they failed to communicate the proper statutory elements necessaryto establish “corrupt persuasion.” More specifically, the court said the jury instructions diluted the meaning of the word “corruptly” to the point where even innocent conduct could trigger a violation. Furthermore, the instruction misled the jury into believing that there didn’t need be a connection, or nexus, between the “persuasion” to destroy documents and a particular legal proceeding. As a result the case was reversed and remanded.The reversal meant there was a misinterpretation of the law. It meant that without the proper legal standard to evaluate Andersen’s behavior, the jury’s decision-making process was flawed and therefore its conclusion is suspect. As a result, Andersen was innocent—for now. Casual observers of the court system often miss this subtle but important distinction. They confuse the ruling on the issue of law with a ruling on the merits, thereby inferring more from appellate ruling than is warranted.It is the role of appellate courts to decide issues of law as opposed to issues of fact. It is up to the trial courts to determine the facts and apply the law to the facts. If the lower court’s reading of the law is flawed, the defective information affects the decision-making process and the verdict it produces. The appellate process is the cure for such errors. Each rung on the appellate ladder is a check for the rung beneath it. It is a quality control mechanism that makes available accurate and consistent interpretations of the law. It is thisavailability that protects the integrity of the decision-making process and the end product: justice.