[JURIST] Former Enron [corporate website; JURIST news archive] executives convicted on charges related to the 2001 accounting scandal may be eligible for new trials, depending on the outcome of an appeal [JURIST report] by former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling [Houston Chronicle profile]. Skilling was convicted under a theory of "deprivation of honest services," which allows for the prosecution of people who enabled fraud but did not personally benefit from it. Experts say his appeal has a good chance of success after the Fifth Circuit rejected [JURIST report] that theory in a 2006 case involving four former Merrill Lynch executives. If successful, other Enron executives may also challenge their convictions under the theory. McClatchy has more.
In September 2007, Skilling appealed his conviction [JURIST report; verdict backgrounder] on 19 counts of conspiracy, insider trading, and securities fraud, claiming errors by prosecutors and the trial judge. In April 2007, former Enron Vice President Christopher Calger [Houston Chronicle profile], who was also charged under the "honest services" theory, withdrew a guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud after the 2006 Merrill Lynch verdict was overturned. In the Merrill Lynch case, the convictions of the executives were overturned when the court found that they had acted for the benefit of Enron and not to benefit themselves personally.