Jeff Skilling appeals 5th Circuit ruling


Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his appeal of an April decision by an appeals court that found errors made by prosecutors were “harmless.”

Skilling, convicted on 19 out of 28 charges following a 2006 jury trial, appealed those verdicts all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

The Supreme Court ruled in June 2010 that one of the theories behind the conviction for conspiracy — the honest-services fraud theory — should not have been used in instructions given to the jury. Honest services fraud is defined as a company officer depriving a company “of the intangible right of honest services.”

The high court sent the issue back to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to determine if the use of the theory invalidated any of the charges. The 5th Circuit said it found the error to be “harmless”, however, saying there was ample evidence to allow the jury to convict based on other theories used by prosecutors.

In the appeal of the 5th Circuit decision filed earlier this month, Skilling’s attorneys said they are challenging the “harmless error” argument and the argument a defendant’s testimony can be categorically disregarded in such a revie.

“Skilling’s petition will demonstrate that the Court’s holdings on both of these questions conflict with the decisions of other circuits and with Supreme Court precedent, and that both questions involve legal issues of nationwide importance in the demonstration of harmless-error review,” the filing says.

The full filing is below.

Skilling will still be resentenced by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake based on a prior ruling from the appeals court that the Houston judge applied federal sentencing guidelines improperly.

A date for resentencing has not been set.

2011 Sept Jeff Skilling s Motion to Stay Fifth Circuit Mandate Pending Appeal to U S Supreme Court

Tom Fowler

16 Responses

  1. Allison says:

    I would recommend reading The Smartest Guys in the Room (book that the documentary was based on) or Conspiracy of Fools. The documentary is ok but since it has time contraints, there’s alot, and I mean ALOT left out. What brought Enron down was a really complex mix of arrogance and greed and it’s hard to get a true sense of the whole story from a 2.5 hour documentary. For a few examples – it doesn’t touch on the compensation and promotion system that encouraged deal makers to just make deals and disregard how they would actually be carried out – this resulted in money just flowing out the door because no one cared to get the deals to actually make money. Under mark-to-market accounting, the profits were already booked. It glazes over the complacency of Arthur Anderson to go along with whatever Enron wanted and the pressure applied to keep it that way – this was how Enron could use that creative accounting and then could turn around and say the auditors approved it. It glazes over Fastow’s special purpose entities, which were the catalyst for the fall. It doesn’t even mention the board of directors or its complacency. Further, there were alot of other people within the company that were questioning what was happening before Sherron Watkins wrote her anonymous letter to Ken Lay.

    If you really want to know the innerworkings of the company and get the entire picture, I really recommend reading either of those books about it. You can get so much more detail.

  2. Mike H. says:

    “No Kitty, he hasn’t suffered nearly as much as the people whose lives he destroyed.”

    Yes, many former Enron employees sunk LOTS of money into their stock. Then, those 401K plans that bought into Enron’s song & dance. There’s former Arthur Anderson employees that never worked on anything for Enron, who now have that hanging over them for the rest of their careers, guilt by association.

    “The Smartest Guys in the Room” should be seen by all. MSNBC shows a censored (minus most profanities) version of it every so often.

    Then, the old “there were improper legal procedures in the trial, so throw the whole trial out” arguments. Even if you throw out the charges related to the debated instructions, how many other charges on him would still stick?

  3. Peeper says:

    How about laying Jeff out on a bed of fire ants…or tying him to a chair and forcing him to listen to Barry Manilow.

  4. Jpulp22 says:

    JY, you are exactly right. Enron did not make money, they took money from investors and, in the case of California, manipulated energy markets to line their own pockets. I remember Gov Davis complaining about it. Everyone called him a whiner. Turns out he was right. There is a huge connection between the Bush family and Enron. That documentary, ‘The Smartest Guys in the Room” is fascinating.

  5. J Y Chang says:

    If you have watched the CNBC ducumentary of the demise of ENRON, you can see the heartless character of Skilling and understand why he is responsible for the destruction of so many lifes. Examples: In mocking the electricity shartage of California in 2000, he joked: “The difference between California and Titanic is that when Titanic sink, the light is still on”. ” We like to take risk, we make big money by taking risk”

  6. Burn Oil says:

    I really don’t understand why some of you are giving Jeff that “suffered enough” pity. You are pathetic to think he should get away with millions of dollars at the expense of thousands of laid off workers.

  7. ntangle says:

    caj – You’re thinking about Andy Fastow. I think Jeff socked away a pretty good rainy day fund while at Enron and gave his attys a big retainer up front. I just googled Jeff and found something that was news to me:

    “Skilling is the younger brother of Tom Skilling, the chief meteorologist at CW affiliate/cable superstation WGN-TV in Chicago, Illinois.” (Tom has been @ WGN for quite a while).

  8. Texas says:

    Kitty, ask former employees of Enron if they’re still suffering? Being a former employee I don’t think he has suffered enough. At least he and his family have money and everything else they need, but some of us former employees have to start from ALL OVER!!

  9. Adler says:

    Actually Skilling’s legal issues raise valid questions. The appeal’s Court recognized the error in jury instructions, but their contention of “no harm” is questionable.

    Once the jury received its instructions, there was no way to “un-ring the bell.” Even if the jury later received an order not to use one of the previous instructions, the original jury instructions were in writing, and the flawed instruction would have been present during all deliberations.

  10. Truth says:

    Give the guy a break, he’s too rich to be in prison..

  11. Cajun 58 says:

    As long as the Weingarten family ( Jeff’s wife is a member ) doesn’t run out of money, he’s going to appeal! Stoic_Kitty must be a nom de plume for a Weingarten family member.

  12. Elmo says:

    No Kitty, he hasn’t suffered nearly as much as the people whose lives he destroyed.

  13. crazy cajun says:

    You are the absolute scum bag of this world and deserve to spend the rest of your life in prison. However, the rich always get freed but I hope you are one rich sorry person that does not. For us who lost our life savings to enjoy in retirement, we do not feel one bit sorry for you – you sure don’t have any feelings for us that you lied to – and YES you lied to your hard working and dedicated employees at Enron and the world.

  14. Stoic_Kitty says:

    Hasn’t This Poor Man Suffered Enough?

  15. olivia says:

    I’m sorry Jeff. We know how much you must be hurting. I wonder how the families of the working class at Enron are doing these days with NO MONEY for food.

  16. shockwave says:

    You were a dishonest businessman and a low example of a human being. You can spend all your money on lawyers if you like. You may even get really lucky and get some future president to pardon you for your crimes and let you out of jail free.

    But you will always be a criminal and a thief. And even if you get lucky, jail is where wholescale con-men like yourself deserve to be.