The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider the appeal of former Enron Corp. CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who was convicted in 2006 on 19 criminal charges. In a 3-0 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans last January denied a request to overturn Skilling's convictions, which the defense claimed were based on incorrect legal theory, faulty jury instructions, a biased jury and prosecutorial misconduct (see NGI, Jan. 12). However, the three-judge panel ordered that Skilling be resentenced, which could reduce the prison term of 24 years and four months. The court agreed with the defense team's argument that Judge Sim Lake, who presided over Skilling's trial, had misapplied federal guidelines in enhancing Skilling's sentence. When Skilling was sentenced, Lake ruled that Skilling's conduct had endangered a "financial institution" because his actions had damaged the value of Enron's pension fund. The circuit court found that Enron's pension fund was not a financial institution. Skilling's legal team appealed for a review of the case to the Supreme Court in May (see NGI, May 18). The defense team argues that under a federal fraud statute, prosecutors failed to show that Skilling deprived Enron of his "honest services." The defense also contends that pretrial publicity in Houston, where Enron was headquartered, had prejudiced the jury and led to an unfair trial.
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