Enron Ex-CEO Jeff SkillingWill Enron ex-CEO Jeffrey Skilling get out of jail? The Supreme Court ruled today on several aspects of Skilling's conviction, leaving him a path to a new trial on all counts, but not a certain one.

The court rejected Skilling's guaranteed passage to a new trial by ruling 6-3 that his jury was fair and not overly tainted by pretrial publicity and a short jury-screening procedure. Interestingly, the only justice with trial court experience -- Justice Sonia Sotomayor -- voted for Skilling on this point.

However, the court held that one statute that Skilling was convicted under -- the Honest Services statute -- didn't apply to what Skilling did. So the big question is, what next?

Was the Conviction a Result of "Harmless Error"?


The high court sent the case back for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to decide. On remand, the lower court will have to rule on whether Skilling's conspiracy conviction -- he was convicted of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, securities fraud, and money or property wire fraud -- must be reversed, or whether the inclusion of honest services was "harmless error" because any juror voting for a conspiracy conviction on the basis of honest-services wire fraud would have done so on the other bases as well. If the lower court holds the honest-services part is harmless error, Skilling has failed entirely, and all his convictions stand. (Of course, Skilling will appeal that decision, I'm sure.)

If the lower court tosses the conspiracy conviction, then it has to decide whether Skilling's other convictions -- he was convicted of more than conspiracy -- stand or fall. If the other convictions stand, he stays in jail (again, surely Skilling will appeal). If the court decides the other convictions were so tainted by the conspiracy one that they also have to be tossed, then Skilling goes free -- unless and until the government successfully reconvicts him.

In short, Skilling has hope. But no get-out-of-jail-free card.

http://xml.channel.aol.com/xmlpublisher/fetch.v2.xml?option=expand_relative_urls&dataUrlNodes=uiConfig,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=694307&pid=694306&uts=1250541635
http://www.aolcdn.com/ke/media_gallery/v1/ke_media_gallery_wrapper.swf
Famous White-Collar Crimes
Click through the gallery for a look at some of the most high-profile white-collar crimes in recent history.
Stephen Chernin, Getty Images
Stephen Chernin, Getty Images

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Intro to Retirement

Get started early planning for your long term future.

View Course »

Introduction to Preferred Shares

Learn the difference between preferred and common shares.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum