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Kenny Boy unconvicted

Kenny Boy Lay’s criminal record has been officially wiped clean.

Former Enron Chairman Ken Lay’s criminal conviction was vacated and his indictment dismissed by a judge today.

U.S. District Judge Sim Lake granted the request by Lay’s estate to vacate the conviction, an outcome that was widely anticipated given legal precedent. He also dismissed the indictment used to bring him to trial earlier this year.

Lay died July 5, just weeks after a jury found him guilty on six charges of conspiracy and fraud and Lake found him guilty on four charges of bank fraud.

In his decision, Lake cited a decision in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that makes death, before the appeals process has been exhausted, grounds for throwing out a conviction and dismissing an indictment.

I totally understand the rationale behind this, and even though I don’t like the fact that the main effect will be to screw the civil suit plaintiffs, I can’t say I disagree with it. That’s the way it goes.

The Department of Justice tried to trump that precedent, however, when it asked Congress in early September to pass a law that would essentially prevent courts from vacating criminal convictions if a defendant dies before going through the entire appeals process.

The government asked Lake to at least wait until Oct. 23, when Lay was scheduled to be sentenced.

The proposed law does not appear to have been picked up a sponsor in Congress.

This was a two-bit maneuver by the prosecutors, and it deserved to be ignored. Tom called it for what it was last month. I don’t agree with his overall evaluation of the prosecutors and their methods, but another stunt like that and I’ll give it some serious consideration.

Jeff Skilling will be sentenced today. Tom has a preview of that, and he contrasts it to the fate of Andrew Fastow and Rick Causey.

UPDATE: More here.

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