Former Enron Corp. CEO Jeffrey Skilling on Friday asked the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to throw out all of his 19 convictions.

Skilling’s legal team argued in a 237-page appeal that there were errors by the prosecution and by presiding U.S. District Judge Sim Lake in the Houston trial that sent him to prison for 24 years and four months in May 2006 (see Daily GPI, May 26, 2006). Enron founder and former chairman Kenneth Lay also was convicted in the trial; he died of a heart attack less than two months after the trial ended (see Daily GPI, July 6, 2006).

In an interview with reporters in New Orleans, Skilling lead trial lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said the prosecution had been “in search of crimes knowing this wasn’t a clear-cut case, and in particular, that Jeff Skilling hadn’t done anything wrong.”

Skilling’s appeal is based on several points. Among other things, his defense team argued:

Following his conviction, Skilling filed an appeal, but it was denied without explanation by Lake (see Daily GPI, July 26, 2006). Skilling appealed Lake’s ruling and asked to remain free on bond, but his request was again denied by the appeals court.

In his two-page ruling ordering Skilling to jail, Fifth U.S. Circuit Court Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham suggested there were “serious frailties” on several charges against Skilling (see Daily GPI, Dec. 14, 2006). However, he further noted late last year that “Skilling raises no substantial question that is likely to result in the reversal of his convictions on all of the charged counts.” The only way the court could have allowed Skilling to remain free pending his appeal was for him to convince the court that the appeal likely would result in all of the convictions being overturned.

The prosecution had no comment on the appeal.

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