Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s appellate battle apparently will continue with what his attorney says is “newly discovered evidence.”
In a motion for a time extension filed last week, Daniel Petrocelli asked to have until August 17 to submit Skilling’s latest brief. The two-page motion refers to Skilling’s intent to ask for a new trial based on the new evidence but includes no description of what the evidence is.
A hearing on the request for more time will be held June 7 before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Skilling’s request for a new trial that had been based on its previous ruling tossing out one of the legal theories used to convict him.
Skilling had appealed to the Supreme Court after the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the theory in question — an “honest services” statute that the high court had said was inappropriate for this type of case — amounted to a “harmless” error and there was plenty of evidence to support his conviction on other grounds.
The attorney for convicted Enron CEO Jeff Skilling said Friday his motion for a new trial will hinge on documents produced by the government after the 2006 trial – familiar territory that he has long insisted show prosecutors repeatedly withheld evidence favorable to the defense.
While not citing the specific documents that he claims are “exculpatory,” attorney Daniel Petrocelli told U.S. District Judge Sim Lake during an open-court telephone conference that his argument will center on notes of government interviews with former Enron executives as well documents related to the so-called Global Galactic memo that former Enron executive Andrew Fastow purportedly put together outlining the company’s dealings with off-the-books partnerships designed to conceal the extent of Enron’s debt.
“It all comes from the (earlier) material provided for the appeal,” Petrocelli said. “There were two or three productions of evidence, and all the material comes from those productions.”
On the one hand, I can’t claim to have any sympathy for Jeff Skilling. On the other hand, I believe the post-conviction appeals process has become far too burdensome, with too many obstacles placed in the path of convicts with meritorious claims. We’ve also seen far too many cases lately of prosecutors being caught not disclosing potentially exculpatory evidence. As such, if he really does have new evidence I hope Skilling gets the opportunity to present it. Even better, I hope he sets a precedent that helps clear the way for other appellants. We’ll see how it goes.