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Federal judge refuses to dismiss case against Lay, Skilling

[JURIST] US District Judge Sim Lake on Monday refused to dismiss the criminal case against former Enron founder Kenneth Lay [Chronicle profile] and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling Chronicle profile], saying that the defense had failed to prove that there was "deliberate, systematic prosecutorial misconduct" that has interfered with the defendants' efforts to prepare for trial. Lay and Skilling face conspiracy and fraud charges [PDF indictment] in connection with the fall of Enron [JURIST news archive] and Skilling also faces insider trading charges [JURIST report]. Defense lawyers argued that prosecutors have intimidated witnesses by threatening indictments or harsh sentences if the witnesses talk to the defense teams, allegations which prosecutors have denied. In September, Judge Lake told witnesses they were free to work with the defense and offered to meet with witnesses to discuss concerns about government retribution, and Lake said Monday that his efforts "remedied any harm to defendants." The trial is scheduled to begin January 30. AP has more.

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