The trial of Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling will
go ahead in the former energy giant’s hometown of Houston on Monday, a US judge
District judge Sim Lake issued a ruling yesterday that the former executives’
last-minute request to move the trial away from Houston had been denied. The
pair’s lawyers argued – for the second time – that heavy publicity and residial
anger about the energy giant’s collapse would prejudice the trial of Lay and
The judge also rejected a plea by the lawyers to interview potential jurors
personally, and said he would question the pool during jury selection next
Monday to ensure the ‘selection of a fair and impartial jury’.
Skilling and Lay’s lawyers had previously voiced concerned about the
difficulty of obtaining a fair trial in Houston, following comments made by
potential jurors’ in questionnaires sent out last November as part of the
initial jury selection process.
According to reports in the US, some prospective jurors had called Skilling
‘a high-class crook’ and ‘cheater’ who ‘would lie to his mother if it would
further his cause’; and Lay ‘the biggest lying crook of all’ who ‘did a lot of
injustice to a lot of good people’.
The jury pool has now been whittled down to 164 from the original 400 who
initially filled out questionnaires. The trial of the two former executives is
expected to take about four months, with Lay facing seven charges of conspiracy
and fraud, and Skilling more than 30.
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