U.S. District Judge Sim Lake granted the request by Lay’s estate to wipe out the convictions against the late Enron chairman, an outcome that was widely anticipated, given legal precedent. Lake also dismissed the indictment that was filed against him in 2004.
In his ruling, Lake cited a decision in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that makes a defendant’s death before his or her appeals have been exhausted grounds for throwing out a conviction and dismissing an indictment.
The Department of Justice had argued against vacating the conviction, saying it would unjustly enrich Lay’s estate by preventing criminal forfeiture proceedings to recover restitution for victims of Enron’s downfall.
The government even proposed a law that would prevent courts from vacating criminal convictions in such circumstances. That effort didn’t succeed.