The Enron Trial begins today, and let me just wish a quick “Good Luck” to the defense team, because they are going to need it:
Chances are that in this city’s pool of 2.3 million registered voters, there are at least 16 people who are not angry about the implosion of Enron, the largest business collapse in history. But finding them in a single day could be a challenge.
That has not deterred Judge Simeon T. Lake III of Federal District Court, who will begin the much-anticipated criminal trial of the former Enron chief executives Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling on Monday.
Judge Lake said in court on Thursday that he expected to choose a panel of 12 jurors and 4 alternates from 100 prospective members in one day. After examining responses to the jury questionnaires, Judge Lake indicated that he felt they did not show evidence of prejudice against the defendants. “I’ve been impressed by the apparent lack of bias or influence from media exposure,” he said.
I bet there are not 16 people in the country who have not come to a conclusion about the guilt of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. To hell with them, I say. They will get their day in court, and then many more in shackles.
BTW- if you have not, make sure you rent Enron- The Smartest Guys in the Room. It is out on DVD, and my review is here.
The Sanity Inspector
I wouldn’t be able to get on the jury. My well-run, honest east coast utility stock was roiled twice in the past several years. Once by the California energy crunch, caused by that state’s NIMBYs, and once by Enron.
Five years ago, I used to work as a class action lawyer, bringing securities fraud cases against companies like Enron. Criminal corporations hate being sued, and they would demonize us right and left, with the help of their bought-and-paid-for politicians in the GOP.
We tried to tell people these corporations were getting away with murder and needed closer oversight. They claimed that we were just a bunch of leeches bringing frivolous lawsuits. We told the truth and they lied.
We tried to tell people that the big accounting firms were often part and parcel of the fraud, that they were so dependent on keeping their big clients that they would sign off on any set of cooked financials. They claimed that no auditing firm would risk its hard-won reputation just for the business of a single client. Has anyone heard from Arthur Andersen lately? We told the truth and they lied.
We tried to tell people that market research was a fraud, that investment firms were so dependent on big underwriting deals that they would never tell you if they had bad news about a company. They claimed that people like Jack Grubman, who got rich by touting the telecom industry right up until the whole thing went bust, were giving you nothing more than their honest opinion. We told the truth and they lied.
Lawyers are still the villains though. Remember, you can’t trust ’em.
What do you have with 10,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
A good start.
On a more serious note, though, good post, Steve.
A completely tainted jury pool might almost make up for the multi-million dollar defense these guys will have.
Screw em. They’re lucky they didn’t pull this shit a hundred years ago…
I’m glad that John recommended the “Enron” movie. I saw it last year in the theater, and was so angry I could barely trust myself to drive home.
Despite what we know about these folks, I will not be surprised if they get off on some technicality or “lack of proof” that they knew for certain what was going on. Lay and Skilling will blame Fastow for all the misdeeds.
I wonder if Steve S. can shed any light on this as a lawyer. Can Lay/Skilling skip penalties this way? Is it possible they can make Fastow the fall guy and genuinely claim they were working in the best interests of the shareholders all along….at least they thought they were?
My broker recommended we buy Enron at $18. At about $60, he called me up, and said that Enron had a good story, but not that good a story, so we sold. Greed is good, but don’t get too greedy.
I guess Kenny boy can call me as a defense witness.
I’m reading this on my beautiful Compaq flat screen I picked up for a song in that auction of their assets. Still has the “ENRON CORP” bar code sticker on it. That was years ago and they are just now coming to trial. Amazing.
Oh, come ON. They found enough people who didn’t know about O.J. Simpson to staff a jury. They found enough people who didn’t know about Michael Jackson to staff a jury. And Ken Lay never fled from the cops on live TV.
O.J. was a far more sympathetic character than Kenny Boy.
I’m just hoping they find a jury that’s willing to sentence Lay and Shilling to some time in a real prison.
The only reason anyone cares about any of this is the librul MSM’s attempt to tie Ken Lay to president Bush. This whole DOJ trial is just an outgrowth of the Bush-bashing that has swept the nation. It’s sad, really, to see a good man like Ken Lay scape-goated like this.
What I want to know is: on what date was Kenny Boy told he can expect a Presidential pardon?
I don’t know why they wouldn’t be able to field an impartial jury. Even President Bush has insisted he didn’t know Kenny Boy well, and if he didn’t, then no one did.
Were it not for 9/11, Kenny Boy would be hanging around W’s neck like a lead albatross.
Were it not for 9/11, Kenny Boy would be hanging around W’s neck like a lead albatross.
LITBMueller: January 19, 2009: Why do you think they’ve been putting off the trail for this long?
“I bet there are not 16 people in the country who have not come to a conclusion about the guilt of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling.”
Whereas I would comfortably take a bet that at least two million people could be found who would not recognize those names.
You are, as you do from time to time, wildly over-estimating the interest of much of the American public in paying the slightest bit of attention to “news.”
Whether one would want such people on the jury is another question.
“What I want to know is: on what date was Kenny Boy told he can expect a Presidential pardon?”
If you’re seriously suggesting that a pardon is going to happen, I wouldn’t hold your breath. It’s all negatives and no positives for President Bush, or even his successor, to do that. Presidents don’t give pardons because of past connections; only for future benefits of one sort, indirect or direct, or once in a while, on the merits. (For instance, pardoning CIA people who broke the law isn’t of direct benefit to a President, but it serves notice that those willing to do the same in future for the President may be protected.)
Guys, stop ragging on the lawyers. They’re not the problem.
Now, the Lobbyists, THOSE we need to hunt down!
Gary, normally, I’d agree with you on the politics of pardons, and whether Bush would do it. But, Bush is a “I’m gonna do what I think is right, everyone else/rules/laws be damned” kind of guy, so I honestly don’t know…
It’s all negatives and no positives for President Bush, or even his successor, to do that.
Yeah, especially if Lay gets Scooter Libby to push for it, like he did with Marc Rich. Talk about _personas non gratas_.
I have the perfect punishment for Kenny Lay if convicted.
instead of prison time, force him to spend an equal period of time as a low level accounting analyst for one of the big 6.
you know, the ones who go on site for months at a time telling corporations how to run their businesses and comply with Sarbanes/Oxley regulations. Not a lead analyst, but a grunt.
he would also have to wear a sign around his neck that says “all of this is my fault”.
anyone who’s had to deal with SOX requirements and these well intentioned but life sucking leaches will know that forcing him to do this will be like throwing a child rapist into the general prison population.
not a big enough negative to keep bubba from pardoning a drug dealer.
or as neil pointed out, marc rich.
Mo, step up to big leagues and start using capital letters at the beginning of sentences. You’re not text messaging home from the mall here.
OK, that’s kinda funny.
“Five years ago, I used to work as a class action lawyer, bringing securities fraud cases against companies like Enron. Criminal corporations hate being sued, and they would demonize us right and left, with the help of their bought-and-paid-for politicians in the GOP.”
Blah, blah, blah
So who prosecutes these beasts? Republicans! Michael Milken was brought down by Bush 41. Enron and a whole slew of crooks under Bush 43
Under Clinton — cricket chirp, cricket chirp
Marc Rich pardoned
Hey, Class Action Lawyer, enough with the caricatures. Bone up on the facts. Enron’s heydey was under Bill.
But hey, Hill gets in there, Lay slips a few mill to the Clinton Presidential Library and he gets a Pardon too
“But, Bush is a “I’m gonna do what I think is right, everyone else/rules/laws be damned” kind of guy, so I honestly don’t know…”
True enough, but I’ve not seen any evidence that Lay was actually a close personal friend of Bush’s, rather than merely finding him quite useful as an ATM machine. And I’m tentatively assuming that Bush has an interest, so long as it doesn’t conflict with higher priority interests, in helping, or at least not hurting, the Republican Party even after he’s no longer in office. I could be wrong about either hypothesis, to be sure.
Hahahaha, Don Surber wins the prize for best random thought of the day… again.
The only comment I made about the GOP is that it’s consistently the GOP that demonizes lawyers. Anyone want to deny that?
As far as enforcement of the securities laws, Clinton absolutely didn’t do enough. You get no argument from me. Arthur Levitt was an excellent SEC chairman, a great advocate for investors, but he really wasn’t given the power to accomplish any major reforms. Because you make life hard enough for the corporations, they scream bloody murder, the politicians respond (and it’s not Clinton who makes the securities laws, anyway, it’s the Republican majority in Congress).
But I really wasn’t looking to make a partisan point. I just think people, in general, don’t really get why it matters to them if we enforce the securities laws, in fact they don’t really know what the securities laws are, and it wasn’t until several major blowups like Enron occurred that people began to realize, hey, there really is large-scale securities fraud out there.
I’d say the real partisan difference from one administration to the next has to do with the enforcement of the antitrust laws, not so much the securities laws.
I just watched Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. I can’t believe the lengths that the executives went to in the name of greed. I would highly recommend the movie for anyone who would like to get in depth information about the case before the trial.