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February 16, 2007

DOJ throws in the towel on appealing the Fifth Circuit's Nigerian Barge decision

enron%20sinking%20logo121606.gifThe Chronicle's Kristen Hays reports on the news that was bubbling through the Houston legal community on Thursday afternoon -- the Department of Justice has decided not to mount an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision vacating the convictions (see also here) of the four Merrill Lynch executives in the travesty known as the Nigerian Barge case.

Although expected, the DOJ's decision in the Nigerian Barge case reverberates through several other pending Enron-related cases. The DOJ can retry three of the four former Merrill Lynch executives, but that would be petty by even the DOJ's standards given the eviscerated nature of the original charges and the fact that each of the defendants has already spent a year of their lives in prison based on a prosecution that was based more on resentment than on true criminal conduct. The Fifth Circuit's now final decision in the barge case casts doubt (see also here) on a substantial number of the charges upon which former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling was convicted, and dispositively blows away over 80% of the case against former Enron Broadband executive Kevin Howard. In addition, the re-trials of Howard's former co-defendants from the disaster that was the first Enron Broadband case are now in various states of disarray, as is the pressured plea deal of former mid-level Enron executive, Chris Calger. And don't forget the mess that is the DOJ's case against the NatWest Three (see also here).

And this is the product of what the Wall Street Journal called "a good record overall?"

Look, this mess is what happens when government is allowed to bastardize charges (in this case, the honest services charge that is supposed to pertain to bribery or kickback cases) against merely questionable business transactions and then appeal to juror resentment against wealthy businesspeople to procure politically popular convictions. The damage to the defendants, their careers and their families that this abuse of power has caused is bad enough. But the carnage to justice and respect for the rule of law is even more ominous. Does anyone really think that they could stand upright in the winds of such abusive governmental power if those winds turned toward them?

Posted by Tom at February 16, 2007 4:54 AM |

Comments

On behalf of those who have followed this travesty of justice and the fact our government will not do it; The government was wrong and they are sorry for taking you three gentlemen away from your lives because they forgot to take off their blinders and see the whole picture.
They wish you nothing but the best and hope this relieves all the pain and suffering you endured by coworkers, neighbors and of course the national media. They should have realized that if they allowed all the facts to be presented, justice would have been served correctly and perhaps, just perhaps, they would have found some actual wrong doing from someone other than Andrew Fastow.

Posted by: NewportRealtor Author Profile Page at February 16, 2007 9:18 AM

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