Activism Discussion: Legal Experts: Ken Lay's Death Means He's Not Guilty, Family Gets To Keep $43.5 Million

Legal Experts: Ken Lay's Death Means He's Not Guilty, Family Gets To Keep $43.5 Million
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EG
2006-07-06 08:03:41 EST
Lay death makes money claim moot: lawyers
By Matt Daily

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Ken Lay's sudden death on Wednesday will scuttle
U.S. prosecutors bid to seize $43.5 million they charged the former
chief executive earned through illegal acts at Enron Corp., legal
experts said.

"Because of what's happened to Ken Lay, everything has been
extinguished," said Joel Androphy, a partner at law firm Berg &
Androphy who has closely followed the case.

However, claims filed by shareholders against Lay and other senior
Enron executives in a civil case can proceed, the lawyers said.

Lay, 64, died of coronary artery disease early on Wednesday in
Colorado, just six weeks after a jury convicted him and former chief
executive officer Jeffrey Skilling of conspiracy and fraud in the
collapse of Enron into bankruptcy in 2001.

The U.S. Justice Department's Enron Taskforce filed a motion on Friday
asking U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake to force Lay to pay $43.5
million and Skilling to pay $139.3 million.

Under precedents set by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New
Orleans, a defendant is not technically ruled guilty until the person
has been sentenced and has exhausted the appeals process, lawyers
said.

Since Lay died before his sentencing and appeal, the conviction does
not stand, and the financial claim by the government will not proceed,
they said.

"I think it's pretty clear the conviction will be abated," Michael
Wynne, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice said.

Lay's lawyers were not available for comment on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment on the
legal implications of Lay's death, but said he expected a decision
would likely be announced in the coming days.

Nancy Rapoport, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center,
said the courts have previously ruled that once a defendant had died,
the process could not go forward because there was no further penalty
the legal system could implement.

"The reason they do it this way is there's nothing really left to
punish," she said.

Robert Cohen
2006-07-06 14:04:29 EST
There are "criminal" accusations and "civil" accusations.

O.J. beat the criminal murder rap as everybody whom spent those weeks
in front of their tvs knows.

O.J. was, however, subsequently sued successfully for civil damages
(and he thus declared bankruptcy, I think).

There are so many plantiffs that--as the cliche goes--the legal stuff
will go on ad infinitum, a longggggg time.


EG wrote:
> Lay death makes money claim moot: lawyers
> By Matt Daily
>
> HOUSTON (Reuters) - Ken Lay's sudden death on Wednesday will scuttle
> U.S. prosecutors bid to seize $43.5 million they charged the former
> chief executive earned through illegal acts at Enron Corp., legal
> experts said.
>
> "Because of what's happened to Ken Lay, everything has been
> extinguished," said Joel Androphy, a partner at law firm Berg &
> Androphy who has closely followed the case.
>
> However, claims filed by shareholders against Lay and other senior
> Enron executives in a civil case can proceed, the lawyers said.
>
> Lay, 64, died of coronary artery disease early on Wednesday in
> Colorado, just six weeks after a jury convicted him and former chief
> executive officer Jeffrey Skilling of conspiracy and fraud in the
> collapse of Enron into bankruptcy in 2001.
>
> The U.S. Justice Department's Enron Taskforce filed a motion on Friday
> asking U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake to force Lay to pay $43.5
> million and Skilling to pay $139.3 million.
>
> Under precedents set by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New
> Orleans, a defendant is not technically ruled guilty until the person
> has been sentenced and has exhausted the appeals process, lawyers
> said.
>
> Since Lay died before his sentencing and appeal, the conviction does
> not stand, and the financial claim by the government will not proceed,
> they said.
>
> "I think it's pretty clear the conviction will be abated," Michael
> Wynne, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice said.
>
> Lay's lawyers were not available for comment on Wednesday.
>
> A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment on the
> legal implications of Lay's death, but said he expected a decision
> would likely be announced in the coming days.
>
> Nancy Rapoport, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center,
> said the courts have previously ruled that once a defendant had died,
> the process could not go forward because there was no further penalty
> the legal system could implement.
>
> "The reason they do it this way is there's nothing really left to
> punish," she said.


Larry
2006-07-06 18:16:28 EST
EG wrote:
> Lay death makes money claim moot: lawyers
> By Matt Daily
>
> HOUSTON (Reuters) - Ken Lay's sudden death on Wednesday will scuttle
> U.S. prosecutors bid to seize $43.5 million they charged the former
> chief executive earned through illegal acts at Enron Corp., legal
> experts said.

<SNIP>

> Lay, 64, died of coronary artery disease early on Wednesday in
> Colorado, just six weeks after a jury convicted him and former chief
> executive officer Jeffrey Skilling of conspiracy and fraud in the
> collapse of Enron into bankruptcy in 2001.

How convenient. Were there any sentencing deals on the table?

Florida
2006-07-06 19:43:16 EST

EG wrote:
> Lay death makes money claim moot: lawyers
> By Matt Daily
>
> HOUSTON (Reuters) - Ken Lay's sudden death on Wednesday will scuttle
> U.S. prosecutors bid to seize $43.5 million they charged the former
> chief executive earned through illegal acts at Enron Corp., legal
> experts said.
>
> "Because of what's happened to Ken Lay, everything has been
> extinguished," said Joel Androphy, a partner at law firm Berg &
> Androphy who has closely followed the case.
>
> However, claims filed by shareholders against Lay and other senior
> Enron executives in a civil case can proceed, the lawyers said.
>
> Lay, 64, died of coronary artery disease early on Wednesday in
> Colorado, just six weeks after a jury convicted him and former chief
> executive officer Jeffrey Skilling of conspiracy and fraud in the
> collapse of Enron into bankruptcy in 2001.
>
> The U.S. Justice Department's Enron Taskforce filed a motion on Friday
> asking U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake to force Lay to pay $43.5
> million and Skilling to pay $139.3 million.
>
> Under precedents set by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New
> Orleans, a defendant is not technically ruled guilty until the person
> has been sentenced and has exhausted the appeals process, lawyers
> said.
>
> Since Lay died before his sentencing and appeal, the conviction does
> not stand, and the financial claim by the government will not proceed,
> they said.
>
> "I think it's pretty clear the conviction will be abated," Michael
> Wynne, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice said.
>
> Lay's lawyers were not available for comment on Wednesday.
>
> A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment on the
> legal implications of Lay's death, but said he expected a decision
> would likely be announced in the coming days.
>
> Nancy Rapoport, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center,
> said the courts have previously ruled that once a defendant had died,
> the process could not go forward because there was no further penalty
> the legal system could implement.
>
> "The reason they do it this way is there's nothing really left to
> punish," she said.

I can't help wondering how many people with serious illnesses are
sitting around thinking, "Hey, don't tempt me..." Somehow the whole
thing feels like The Perfect Scam.


Jim Giblin
2006-07-06 20:20:37 EST
The OP mentioned that the "defendant is not technically ruled guilty until
the person has been sentenced and has exhausted the appeals process,". I
understand that the appeal process may take some time but why was the
sentencing delayed? If the trial resulted in a guilty verdict of specific
crimes, why was the sentence delayed and why was this guy vacationing in CO
in the meantime?


"EG" <Eagle3@sawe.net> wrote in message
news:jvupa2hja9ti9bq3t5l6grk0ke5npr0p4p@4ax.com...
> Lay death makes money claim moot: lawyers
> By Matt Daily
>
> HOUSTON (Reuters) - Ken Lay's sudden death on Wednesday will scuttle
> U.S. prosecutors bid to seize $43.5 million they charged the former
> chief executive earned through illegal acts at Enron Corp., legal
> experts said.
>
> "Because of what's happened to Ken Lay, everything has been
> extinguished," said Joel Androphy, a partner at law firm Berg &
> Androphy who has closely followed the case.
>
> However, claims filed by shareholders against Lay and other senior
> Enron executives in a civil case can proceed, the lawyers said.
>
> Lay, 64, died of coronary artery disease early on Wednesday in
> Colorado, just six weeks after a jury convicted him and former chief
> executive officer Jeffrey Skilling of conspiracy and fraud in the
> collapse of Enron into bankruptcy in 2001.
>
> The U.S. Justice Department's Enron Taskforce filed a motion on Friday
> asking U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake to force Lay to pay $43.5
> million and Skilling to pay $139.3 million.
>
> Under precedents set by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New
> Orleans, a defendant is not technically ruled guilty until the person
> has been sentenced and has exhausted the appeals process, lawyers
> said.
>
> Since Lay died before his sentencing and appeal, the conviction does
> not stand, and the financial claim by the government will not proceed,
> they said.
>
> "I think it's pretty clear the conviction will be abated," Michael
> Wynne, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice said.
>
> Lay's lawyers were not available for comment on Wednesday.
>
> A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment on the
> legal implications of Lay's death, but said he expected a decision
> would likely be announced in the coming days.
>
> Nancy Rapoport, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center,
> said the courts have previously ruled that once a defendant had died,
> the process could not go forward because there was no further penalty
> the legal system could implement.
>
> "The reason they do it this way is there's nothing really left to
> punish," she said.



D*@practical.org
2006-07-07 11:16:52 EST
"Jim Giblin" <jgiblinPublic@abetterplacetobe.com> wrote:

> [W]hy was the sentencing delayed? If the trial resulted in a
> guilty verdict of specific crimes, why was the sentence delayed
> and why was this guy vacationing in CO in the meantime?

The "executive summary" answer to the first part of this question is,
"It's the law" re. which the longer/explanatory answer is that federal
law that prescribes the procedure to be followed as a predicate to a
court imposing a sentence following a jury verdict of "guilty"
includes required investigation of the defendant's background, an
opportunity for defense and prosecution input re. whether/how the
sentencing judge should use whatever discretion s/he has to impose
This instead of That sentence, etc., and that this procedure takes
some time.

How much time, including whether a defendant with the prosecution's
consent might opt to waive those pre-sentence procedures, often are
include negotiation subject to the court's approval and direction in
consultation with the probation departments coordinating.

Besides questions such as whether a defendant and the prosecution
might be negotiating about whether and, if so, under what conditions
and in what way the convicted defendant might become a "whistle
blower" are ancillary but sometimes important issues of which an
example in Lay's case was the extent if at all to which there would be
a (negotiated) turnover/forfeiture of his remaining assets (many
$millions) the government contended derived from his unlawful
activities.

Note, too, that the time / effort devoted to these matters can cut
both ways (defense / prosecution) because part of the discretion still
accorded a sentencing court includes the authority of the sentencing
court if exercised in accordance with the relevant standards in this
connection to take into account not just the degree or not of
defendant's "good character" as a convicted defendant might claim that
character to be but also whether defendant had engaged of misconduct
perhaps including wrongful acts of which s/he had not been convicted.
The pre-sentence procedure thus might be necessarily time consuming.
Whether that procedure was unduly lengthy, or not, to Lay's
disadvantage, or advantage, therefore requires greater attention to
the particular facts than just a, "It took too long!" or, "Hang the
Bastard!" slogans account for.

As for the second element of the above query / comment, that, too, has
to do with the release on bail conditions set by the court within the
proper exercise of its jurisdiction after considering input from the
prosecution and defense re. which it probably is safe to say that, in
Lay's case, probably no one involved in the process - except, perhaps,
Lay himself? - thought he would die before the court imposed sentence.

Alvin Toda
2006-07-07 15:03:37 EST
On Fri, 07 Jul 2006 00:20:37 GMT, "Jim Giblin"
<*c@abetterplacetobe.com> wrote:

>The OP mentioned that the "defendant is not technically ruled guilty until
>the person has been sentenced and has exhausted the appeals process,". I
>understand that the appeal process may take some time but why was the
>sentencing delayed? If the trial resulted in a guilty verdict of specific
>crimes, why was the sentence delayed and why was this guy vacationing in CO
>in the meantime?

Yes. Why should a convicted thief of so much money allowed to go free
prior to sentencing?


>"EG" <Eagle3@sawe.net> wrote in message
>news:jvupa2hja9ti9bq3t5l6grk0ke5npr0p4p@4ax.com...
>> Lay death makes money claim moot: lawyers
>> By Matt Daily
>>
>> HOUSTON (Reuters) - Ken Lay's sudden death on Wednesday will scuttle
>> U.S. prosecutors bid to seize $43.5 million they charged the former
>> chief executive earned through illegal acts at Enron Corp., legal
>> experts said.
>>
>> "Because of what's happened to Ken Lay, everything has been
>> extinguished," said Joel Androphy, a partner at law firm Berg &
>> Androphy who has closely followed the case.
>>
>> However, claims filed by shareholders against Lay and other senior
>> Enron executives in a civil case can proceed, the lawyers said.
>>
>> Lay, 64, died of coronary artery disease early on Wednesday in
>> Colorado, just six weeks after a jury convicted him and former chief
>> executive officer Jeffrey Skilling of conspiracy and fraud in the
>> collapse of Enron into bankruptcy in 2001.
>>
>> The U.S. Justice Department's Enron Taskforce filed a motion on Friday
>> asking U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake to force Lay to pay $43.5
>> million and Skilling to pay $139.3 million.
>>
>> Under precedents set by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New
>> Orleans, a defendant is not technically ruled guilty until the person
>> has been sentenced and has exhausted the appeals process, lawyers
>> said.
>>
>> Since Lay died before his sentencing and appeal, the conviction does
>> not stand, and the financial claim by the government will not proceed,
>> they said.
>>
>> "I think it's pretty clear the conviction will be abated," Michael
>> Wynne, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice said.
>>
>> Lay's lawyers were not available for comment on Wednesday.
>>
>> A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment on the
>> legal implications of Lay's death, but said he expected a decision
>> would likely be announced in the coming days.
>>
>> Nancy Rapoport, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center,
>> said the courts have previously ruled that once a defendant had died,
>> the process could not go forward because there was no further penalty
>> the legal system could implement.
>>
>> "The reason they do it this way is there's nothing really left to
>> punish," she said.
>

Js
2006-07-08 16:15:12 EST

Alvin Toda wrote:
> On Fri, 07 Jul 2006 00:20:37 GMT, "Jim Giblin"
> <jgiblinPublic@abetterplacetobe.com> wrote:
>
> >The OP mentioned that the "defendant is not technically ruled guilty until
> >the person has been sentenced and has exhausted the appeals process,". I
> >understand that the appeal process may take some time but why was the
> >sentencing delayed? If the trial resulted in a guilty verdict of specific
> >crimes, why was the sentence delayed and why was this guy vacationing in CO
> >in the meantime?
>
> Yes. Why should a convicted thief of so much money allowed to go free
> prior to sentencing?

He was free on bail. Until sentenced, the bail bond stays in effect.
Duh.

js

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