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Truthdiggers of the Week: The Enron Trial Jurors

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Posted on May 27, 2006
Enron Jurors
AP / Pat Lopez

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

Washington Post:

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.

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“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.

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Trial Over, Enron Juror Gets His Life Back

Washington Post:

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.

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By Aidan, June 6, 2006 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For those kind of thieves when is enough enough??

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By Greg, May 31, 2006 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: Tony’s comment 10692, about Ken Lay’s sales of stock.  I think Kurt Eichenwald has unimpeachable character as a reporter, but for some reason, once given special access to Ken Lay to cover him for the NYTimes, he became totally convinced that Ken Lay was really not guilty of wrong-doing but was almost an innocent actor in the downfall of Enron.  He was convinced as well that Lay was not selling shares of Enron on the way down.  As I understood it, Lay was exercising options, and selling shares, all the way down—whether to meet margin calls or not doesn’t make any difference. 

I think this is testimony to Lay’s great power of persuasion - be is able to convince someone, anyone, certainly Bush, even Kurt Eichenwald, of his complete innocence, his charm, candor, etc.—so long as that person is at close range. 

He failed to do so with the jury, however.  The buck stopped there…

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By James too, May 31, 2006 at 8:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We don’t have to know what Lay and Skilling knew.  We only need to know that they were “in charge” of Enron.  That means for their huge salaries they were responsible for everything that went on in the corporation and it was their responsibility to ensure that everyone beneath them were conducting business,legally.

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By Tony Waters, May 31, 2006 at 1:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Many commentators, including the estimable Robert Scheer, keep repeating the claim that Ken Lay was selling Enron stock while telling the world to buy it.  That claim is literally true, but very misleading because Lay didn’t sell any more shares than he was forced to sell to cover margin calls. It is said that his son was his investment adviser.  With our without his son’s blessing, Kenny Boy had large positions in a couple of real doozies named Global Crossing and Worldcom.  While those scams were unraveling, their stock plunged just weeks ahead of the Enron crash. The only stock Lay owned that was worth anything was Enron stock, and so he sold to cover margin calls.  If I remember correctly, he was also buying Enron stock during this period with a programmed trade to buy a certain number of shares every month.

My source for all this is Kurt Eichenwald’s book A Conspiracy of Fools.

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By R. A. Earl, May 28, 2006 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m really sorry, folks, but I’ve been around far too long to believe that ANYONE, whose livelihood and life are consumed with the kind of money that the Enrons and the “multitude of banks” represent, is not corrupt to some degree.

Lay, Skilling and all the others are power-mad control freaks who will stop at nothing to gain and maintain control over whatever and whoever they can. They are ruthless, cunning, immoral and dangerous scum and the society/culture that promotes this behavior as “success” is about as sick as they are.

The threat from “terrorists” pales in comparison with the danger to our economic and moral health that these criminals present. I hope they all spend the rest of their miserable lives behind bars.

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By James, May 28, 2006 at 11:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is impoosible to know what Lay and Skilling knew about these events, with Fastow engineering offshore entities and dealing with the multitude of banks that lent Enron all of that money on the strength of Enron stock.

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