Ken Lay’s death in July, it was assumed, meant the end of the criminal case against the former Enron chairman. But prosecutors want to change that. On Wednesday, they filed a a motion asking Judge Sim Lake to hold off on signing the paperwork vacating Lay’s conviction on fraud and conspiracy charges until former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling is sentenced in late October.
In the motion, prosecutors propose a new law that criminal cases not be abated when the defendant dies, as is current legal precedent. In an effort to also get a Congressional hearing on the proposal, copies were sent to the Speaker of the House and Vice President Dick Cheney.
In the motion, prosecutors argue that the current law is not fair to crime victims and “erases hard-won verdicts.” The Enron task force wants the new law to be retroactive to July 1 — four days before Lay died. The proposal has sparked a hot legal debate among those involved in and observing the Enron case.
“This is the latest proof of how the lynch mob mentality that the Enron Task Force has incited and fueled, prevails over the rule of law,” says Skilling’s defense attorney Daniel M. Petrocelli. “The proposed legislation is openly unconstitutional. And the motion to the court asks the court in the starkest terms to participate in a knowing violation of the Constitution. I trust the court will reject the invitation.”