Skilling, Lay, Causey Want Trial Moved from Houston
Former Enron Corp. CEO Jeffrey Skilling has requested that his criminal trial, now scheduled for Houston, be moved out of state. Ex-Chairman Kenneth Lay, who originally was seeking a separate trial, and former Chief Accounting Officer Richard Causey joined in the motion because prejudice in Houston was "so extensive, pervasive and profound."
According to the court filing last week before U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake, the trio requested a venue change to another metropolitan area, such as Phoenix, Denver or Atlanta. Houston residents "have a personal, emotional, and economic stake in this case resulting from Enron's dramatic rise and fall," said the filing by Skilling's lead attorney, Daniel Petrocelli.
The filing indicated that the co-defendants have been compared in Houston media reports to Satan, Al Qaeda, Adolph Hitler and O.J. Simpson.
Petrocelli argued that in a survey, nearly one in three Houston residents used negative statements to describe Skilling, which is nearly three times the percentage of negative comments from residents of the other cities. Also, he wrote that Enron's bankruptcy cost thousands of Houstonians their jobs or pensions, hurt real estate prices and damaged local charities.
Unless the venue request is approved, Lay, Skilling and Causey are scheduled to be tried together in Houston sometime next year.
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