Supreme Court to Hear Enron CEO's Appeal

Jeff Skilling challenges 'honest services' law, says trial was unfair
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2009 9:56 AM CDT
Former Enron executive Jeff Skilling leave the courthouse after the verdict in his fraud and conspiracy trial in this May 25, 2006 file photo in Houston.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, file)
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(Newser) – The Supreme Court has agreed to hear former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s appeal of his fraud conviction in connection with the company's collapse. The appeal argues that the federal “honest services” statute, a favorite for prosecutors tackling white collar criminals, is flawed because the government needn’t prove that the defendant’s actions were for his own personal gain. Conrad Black was brought down with the same law, and the Court earlier agreed to hear his appeal, too.

Skilling also contends that he wasn’t given a fair trial, because the people of Houston were out for blood after Enron’s collapse. If the Court agrees, Skilling will probably get a new trial. A lower appeals court upheld all 19 counts of his conviction, but is considering reducing his 24-year prison sentence. Prosecutors, naturally, contend the trial was fair—and that there was overwhelming evidence behind Skilling’s conviction.