I’m just chilling like Jeff Skilling

I kind of hope the Roberts gang overturns this, just so I can read about what kinds of alternative rough justice (here; here; here) the pundits will suggest:

The Supreme Court will consider throwing out the convictions of former Enron Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling for his role in the collapse of the one-time energy giant.

The court said Tuesday it will hear Skilling’s appeal of lower court rulings that upheld all 19 of his 2006 convictions of conspiracy, securities fraud, insider trading and lying to auditors involving the 2001 collapse of Enron.

Update. Obviously, I think Skilling belongs in jail. But I really would enjoy reading all the crazy shit the media would come up with if he walks. And, also, to be honest, I think there’s too much of an attitude of “the Enron guys got nailed, so it means our system is fine now” out there.

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36 replies
  1. 1
    Violet says:

    I’m no pundit, but I hope they all burn in Hades. And they can DIAF to get there. I worked with Enron folks for a short while and a larger collection of egos I have never encountered – and I worked with Wall Street investment bankers during a boom. The sense of entitlement and general attitude of sh1tting on anyone below them was staggering. I have little doubt it came from the top.

    I’m sure there are some very nice folks who worked for Enron. And it stinks that they were scr3wed out of their retirement money and so forth. But after watching “The Smartest Guys in the Room” the ones I really feel for are the Pacific Lighting and Power (or whichever utitliy company it was) workers, who lost out through absolutely no fault of their own. Anyone who worked at Enron itself and had the slightest involvement in decision making…my sympathy is minimal.

    I realize I’m no pundit, so my wishing rough justice on them probably doesn’t count (and conservative pundits will never wish anything bad on their friends), but massive amounts of pain would be too good for those Enron guys. “The Smartest Guys in the Room” didn’t even begin to tell the tale of how much they thought they ran and world and how everyone owed them everything and should bow before them. They ruined people’s lives and they should pay in the most painful way possible.

  2. 2
    Ash Can says:

    That seems like an awful lot to overthrow on the grounds of what appears to be a technicality, and according to the article it would just send him back to court, presumably with pretty much the same mountain of damning evidence against him. IANAL, but it seems to me unlikely that the Supremes’ decision to hear the case would ultimately end up with him walking (although I reserve the right to have a conniption if it did).

  3. 3
    DougJ says:

    Honestly, I just think they belong in jail for breaking the law.

  4. 4
    Zifnab says:

    The court said Tuesday it will hear Skilling’s appeal of lower court rulings that upheld all 19 of his 2006 convictions of conspiracy, securities fraud, insider trading and lying to auditors involving the 2001 collapse of Enron.

    What constitutional issue could possibly be in question here?

    Also, how long till we can expect the GOP to leap to the defense of poor, persecuted Enron executives?

  5. 5
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    This again deserves to be posted, Peter Orszag, CBO, to Congress:

    Taxpayer can probably assume all of Fannie/Freddie’s risk at no cost.

    And you know that goofy looking lanky guy doing the GM commercials? This is the guy that Rahm’s Hedge Fund worked with and somehow Rahm ended up with $16 million. Whitacre is the one who said he knows nothing about cars, but is now runs General Motors. Imagine that.

    Then Axlerod got $3 million for his share of the value created by the invention of the word ‘Astroturfing’. This is such a great word, there is no way that this $3 million could have been paid to buy influence with the Administration. Axlerod is so smart.

    In contrast, Cheney got $200k and change annually in deferred compensation for his work running a large infrastructure company.

  6. 6
    Violet says:

    And, also, to be honest, I think there’s too much of an attitude of “the Enron guys got nailed, so it means our system is fine now” out there.

    Really? The folks I know in Houston – some former Enron employees, some who worked with Enron, some who even knew the guys at the top – don’t think justice was done. Maybe I know a select group.

    Isn’t there something of an outrage about the bankers and Wall St. types who walked off with all our money? Maybe I’m the only one who’s outraged. I certainly don’t think the system is fine. It seems perpetually broken.

    I am glad that at least some of the Enron guys have had to pay. When it all happened, I figured they’d all get off scott free. At least a few haven’t.

  7. 7
    inkadu says:

    Yeah, I’d like to here from a not IANAL; it seems really bizarre for this to be headed to the supreme court; it looks like a straightforward case.

    But Enron was close to Bush and so Skilling might have some buddies on the supreme court. I wonder who Roberts duck hunts with.

  8. 8
    DougJ says:

    Really? The folks I know in Houston – some former Enron employees, some who worked with Enron, some who even knew the guys at the top – don’t think justice was done. Maybe I know a select group.

    No, I mean that at a national level, putting a few Enron guys in jail was made an alternative to actual corporate governance reform.

  9. 9
    Punchy says:

    Where can I lay $5000 that this ruling is:

    1) 5-4
    2) In favor of Jeff “not Tom” Skilling

    Easiest money evah.

  10. 10
    Dork says:

    Another Beastie ref makes this blog. Golf clap to DougJ.

  11. 11
    Violet says:

    @DougJ:

    No, I mean that at a national level, putting a few Enron guys in jail was made an alternative to actual corporate governance reform.

    I think that that is exactly what happened. I don’t necessarily agree that people think it’s the way to solve the underlying problem. Perhaps prior to the financial meltdown in fall 2008 they thought it was okay. But that was Enron writ large. It was very obvious to anyone paying attention. Maybe I thought more people paid attention than did?

    I dunno. Maybe I’m way to optimistic about my fellow Americans’ attitudes toward stuff like that. I hope that after the latest meltdown people see that some kind of regulation is important. And clearly what we have didn’t work. Didn’t work with Enron, didn’t work with the mortgage securities stuff, won’t work with something else down the road.

  12. 12
    Steeplejack says:

    @Dork:

    C’mon, it could just as easily be a Dr. Scholl’s ref. Jeez.

  13. 13
    Joel says:

    Watch the “Smartest Men in the Room” and just hope that Skilling gets transferred to a Supermax for all his troubles.

  14. 14
    Zifnab says:

    @DougJ: Nonsense, DougJ. What’s wrong with the current corporate governance system? Economy is doing just fine. I heard someone talking about DOW 36,000 for christ’s sake. How could there be any sort of problems in our system?

  15. 15
    Napoleon says:

    @Zifnab:

    “What constitutional issue could possibly be in question here?”

    I don’t know but it could easily be something that has nothing to do with if he did what he is accused of or not. Being an attorney you have no idea how crazy it drives me how many people treat whether the court affirms or reverses a case as somehow going to the underlying factual basis of the matter.

    For example, this could be nothing more then an evidentiary issue such as (to make something up) letting certain evidence in without a live witness to give it or “authenticate” the evidence and over the years some circuit courts have said you can do it and some say you can not. So the USSC has a dispute on how to handle certain evidence it needs to resolve.

    Of course rich guys like Skilling have the money to pay attorneys to exploit issues that arise and maybe “buy” themselves a new trial, but that doesn’t really mean the court is considering “Is it unconstitutional to stop Skilling from ripping off millions of people” or something like that.

  16. 16
    The Saff says:

    @Joel: It’s on the DVR and ready to watch. I’m sure it will piss me off.

    And in light lunchtime reading, I finally read Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele’s article “The Bailout, One Year Later.” Just in case you needed another reminder of how incompetent the Bush Administration was at everything it did.

  17. 17
    Demo Woman says:

    OT Not sure if this has been mentioned but Snowe is voting for the Health Care Bill.

  18. 18
    ricky says:

    I think Skilling deserves an extra six months for letting a major league ballpark get named for a breakfast beverage.

  19. 19
    Mark S. says:

    Did anyone read the article? Skilling is appealing two things: some federal “honest services” statute and that he didn’t get a fair trial because of all the publicity.

    A ruling in his favor on the fair trial claim probably would result in a new trial. The effect of the ruling on honest services is unclear since Skilling was convicted on other charges as well, including securities fraud.

    It sounds like the Court is more interested in the “honest services” aspect since it is also accepted two other similar cases. My guess is that he doesn’t have much chance on the fair trial claim. So Skilling might get a reduced sentence, which he might be getting anyway: “In January, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the convictions, but ordered Skilling’s prison term reduced.”

  20. 20
    Zifnab says:

    @Mark S.:

    Did anyone read the article? Skilling is appealing two things: some federal “honest services” statute and that he didn’t get a fair trial because of all the publicity.

    Yeah, I have no idea what the first thing is, and on the second, I didn’t think “The media was mean” was the sort of thing the SCOTUS handled on appeal.

  21. 21
    Face says:

    Without Skilling’s illegality and thus Enron’s demise, we would have never gotten the “Women of Enron” Playboy issue, so there’s that….

  22. 22
    Napoleon says:

    @Zifnab: said:

    “. . . I didn’t think “The media was mean” was the sort of thing the SCOTUS handled on appeal.”

    I think in the 60s they took a famous case involving Dr. Sam Shepherd (whose, oddly enough, slain wife is buried less then a mile from me) who won a reversal on basically that basis. “The Fugitive” was loosely based on his story.

  23. 23
    baxie says:

    this is my favorite post title in a long, long time.

    Kudos Doug!

  24. 24
    Dr. Loveless says:

    I kind of hope the Roberts gang overturns this, just so I can read about what kinds of alternative rough justice (here; here; here) the pundits will suggest

    You may laugh, but we have the luxury of abjuring violent fantasies only because rough pundits stand ready to have violent fantasies on our behalf. Or something like that.

  25. 25
    Jay Schiavone says:

    How come nobody is suspicious about Ken Lay’s passing? He happened to die in Aspen during the off season; very easy to manage records from that location. His body was cremated; were his parents cremated? He died between his conviction and sentencing, thus he knew the deal was done, yet he was released until imprisonment. His estate argued that he could not be held liable for the losses of investors because he had an appeal pending. So many fortunate coincidences (for his estate) and such a young man. What am I saying? There’s no way a man of Ken Lay’s integrity would perpetrate such a fraud. And even if he did, there’s no way he could get the Bush administration to facilitate such a scheme. It’s not like he had anything on them. It’s not like they owed Lay anything; Enron and Lay were the biggest Bush contributors in 2000. Just a curious coincidence.

  26. 26
    cmorenc says:

    @Napolean:

    For example, this could be nothing more then an evidentiary issue such as (to make something up) letting certain evidence in without a live witness to give it or “authenticate” the evidence and over the years some circuit courts have said you can do it and some say you can not. So the USSC has a dispute on how to handle certain evidence it needs to resolve.

    Yes, this is a valid statement about how appellate courts frequently operate. Law schools tend to be very good at training your mind to think about the abstract legal connections between things while ignoring qualitative thoughts about the things themselves.

    NEVERTHELESS there is a pronounced tendency for the current majority of the US Supreme Court to make a special exception for the vast bulk of garden-variety criminal cases, and keep foremost in mind that it’s evil low-life perps they’re dealing with, and it’s uber-important to give as much leeway and benefit of doubt to police and prosecutors as possible in order to put as many of these slimeballs away as possible without creating any needless impediments. Of course they aren’t often quite so overt about having this frame of mind, but simply bend and stretch constitutional principles and precedents to arrive with overwhelming frequency at results that amount to the same thing. OTOH, when it comes to affluent white-collar criminals from the financial or corporate sector (people they might not admire, but the type of people they can nonetheless much more easily identify with), well howdy their perspective seems uncannily prone to change into the mode where now vital legal principles are at stake to be defended that are more important than whether the result lets the perp (especially a corporate perp) down lightly or off scott-free.

    Works that way a lot over the past twenty-five years.

  27. 27
    liberal says:

    @Napoleon:

    Of course rich guys like Skilling have the money to pay attorneys to exploit issues that arise and maybe “buy” themselves a new trial…

    This is the key point, obviously.

  28. 28
    liberal says:

    @cmorenc:

    OTOH, when it comes to affluent white-collar criminals from the financial or corporate sector (people they might not admire, but the type of people they can nonetheless much more easily identify with), well howdy their perspective seems uncannily prone to change into the mode where now vital legal principles are at stake to be defended that are more important than whether the result lets the perp (especially a corporate perp) down lightly or off scott-free.

    This.

  29. 29
    liberal says:

    @Jay Schiavone:

    How come nobody is suspicious about Ken Lay’s passing?

    I thought lots of people were suspicious about his passing.

  30. 30
    ET says:

    I worked at Andersen at the time of Enron – though not on that engagement – and I don’t think justice was done.

    If the 5th Circuit upheld the conviction then Skilling likely doesn’t have near as much chance at the Supreme Court as he might like. From my admittedly little knowledge, I have understood the 5th is not exactly the most “liberal” (as in the damn liberal judges) of of the courts. More Scalito less Ginsburg. Someone who knows better can speak to that than I can.

  31. 31
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Face: lmfao

  32. 32
    Makewi says:

    @DougJ:

    No, I mean that at a national level, putting a few Enron guys in jail was made an alternative to actual corporate governance reform.

    Maybe I’m not getting what you mean by “actual corportate governance reform”, but the Sarbones-Oxley Act was passed in part due to Enron.

  33. 33
    Janus Daniels says:

    I think that DougJ means that Sarbones-Oxley was a bandaid on a sucking chest wound.

  34. 34
    BillCinSD says:

    and Sarbanes-Oxley will likely be made moot this fall by the SCOTUS anyway.

    and Ken Lay became innocent when he died as he had appeals left, so his death led to abatement ab initio — essentially no one should be declared guilty while appeals are still in progress

  35. 35
    Makewi says:

    @BillCinSD:

    I’m not so sure about your SCOTUS argument, as the current courts seems inclined to side with arguments favoring compelling government interest.

  36. 36
    Michael G says:

    Sarbanes-Oxley is why we all have to change our password every 90 days. Great, that will stop the next Enron.

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