Members of the jury in the fraud and conspiracy trial of former Enron executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling in Houston are shown in a courtroom sketch.
Truthdig salutes the 12 jurors who sacrificed four months of their lives to sift through the lies of former Enron chiefs Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, convicting them on 25 counts of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud. Interviewed after the case, jurors were incredulous that the two former titans were unaware of the crimes at their company. “Skilling was supposed to be a hands-on individual,” one juror told a newspaper. “It’s hard to believe a hands-on individual wouldn’t know what was going on.”
Defendants Sunk by Their Testimony
HOUSTON, May 25—Jurors in the Enron trial made it clear that it would have been better for former executives Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling if they’d kept their mouths shut and stayed off the witness stand.
Speaking shortly after a federal judge read their verdict, jurors said Lay’s indignant outbursts while testifying in his own behalf made him seem “that he very much wanted to be in control—he commanded the courtroom,” said Wendy Vaughan, a Houston business owner.
“He was very focused, but he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder that made me question his character,” she said.
As for Skilling, who spent days explaining the tedious financial inner workings of the once high-flying energy company, the jurors couldn’t understand how he could know so much about that and not be aware of illegal business maneuvering, whether or not he was responsible for it personally.
HOUSTON, May 26—Across town from the federal courthouse where he spent four months, Doug Baggett did something Friday he had not done for a long time.
He slept until 7 a.m.—scandalously late for him. He watched the morning news, and he read the newspaper.
As a juror on the Enron trial, he had been able to do none of those things. But now, a day after the jury found two former Enron executives guilty of multiple counts in the fraud trial, life was beginning to return to normal.
On Fridays during the trial, Baggett had headed into work at Shell Oil Co., where as manager of the company’s legal department, he directed seven employees taking care of 130 company lawyers. Fridays meant trying to catch up on a week’s worth of work, although he managed to answer e-mails at night and on weekends. U.S. District Judge Simeon T. Lake III presided over the Enron trial from Monday to Thursday and handled other cases on Fridays.