In his seminal book "The Right Stuff," Tom Wolfe wrote of those engineers and test pilots who believed in the 1940s that the sound barrier was a "brick wall" that would cause anyone who attempted to break it to "augur in" and "buy the farm." Chuck Yeager, of course, proved them to be wrong.

Today, in the brouhaha embracing the mutual fund industry, there is a similar notion: that post-4 p.m. trading is (and was, prior to Labor Day 2003) illegal and constitutes a crime. This view, which represents the underpinning of the New York Attorney General's ongoing prosecutions, has been accepted as gospel by the media. The actual legal landscape, however, is different, less clear, and more nuanced than the direct simplicity of any brick wall imagery.

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