Jailed Enron's Skilling seeks new trial, cites new evidence
(Reuters) - Jailed former Enron Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling is seeking a new trial citing "newly discovered evidence," according to court documents.
Skilling was convicted in 2006 on charges including conspiracy and securities fraud in relation to the 2001 collapse of the one-time energy trading giant Enron. The 58-year-old is now serving a 24-year jail term.
Skilling attorney Daniel Petrocelli has asked a judge for more time to file a "motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence", according to court filings last week in Houston federal court.
The court papers did not detail the new evidence.
U.S. District Judge Sims Lake on Monday ordered a May 25 hearing on the motion.
Skilling as chief executive led Enron's transformation from a sleepy natural gas pipeline company into a global energy trading powerhouse, which disintegrated in bankruptcy in 2001.
After Skilling was convicted, his case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which invalidated one theory underpinning the conspiracy conviction, and instructed an appeals court to review the case again.
But the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans later found any error committed by the trial judge was "harmless."
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Former Enron Corp Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling is reviving his quest for a new trial based on evidence his legal team received from prosecutors long after he was convicted of 19 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, insider trading and lying to auditors.
U.S. District Judge Sim Lake in Houston, who presided over Skilling's 2006 trial following the bankruptcy of the once high-flying energy company, on Friday gave the go-ahead to his legal team to seek a new trial.
Enron crumbled in December 2001 after years of hidden debt and shaky finances fell apart. Skilling, 58, is serving a 24-year sentence on his conviction. Last month the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his latest appeal.
His lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, told Lake that the evidence included notes taken by FBI agents and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawyers during pre-trial interviews with various prosecution witnesses.
Lake said he needed to assess what prosecutors gave Skilling's lawyers before trial as well to determine whether the new evidence is weighty enough to warrant a new trial.
"My recollection is that there were millions of documents provided by the government," he said.
Petrocelli said he would have to summarize what the defense team had, but Lake said given the volume, a summary wouldn't be enough. Petrocelli will confer with prosecutors to agree on a format before he files a new trial request in late summer or early fall.
The Supreme Court heard Skilling's first appeal in 2010, invalidated one of several theories used by prosecutors to prove his guilt, and sent the case back to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for a review.
The 5th Circuit upheld his conviction, as it had once before, and ruled that the verdict would have been the same based on evidence and other prosecution theories.
Brian Wice, an appellate attorney in Houston who has followed Skilling's case, told Reuters on Friday that the latest effort could mean a third round of arguments before Lake, the appeals court and another effort to reach the Supreme Court.
"In reality, though, it could be a very abbreviated journey," Wice said. "I want to give him major props for persistence."