October 6, 2005
The Government's "Sauce for the Gander" Argument in the Enron Conspiracy Trial
The street fight in the Enron conspiracy prosecution continues, according to a Wall Street Journal article (here). After the defense alleged that prosecutors acted improperly by discouraging potential defense witnesses from meeting with defense counsel, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake sent a letter to counsel for 38 former Enron employees (many of whom were identified by the government as unindicted coconspirators) that provided assurances that the government would not retaliate if any agreed to meet with the lawyers for Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, and Richard Causey. In support of their motion alleging prosecutorial misconduct, the defendants filed under seal affidavits from six defense lawyers purportedly outlining misconduct by prosecutors in threatening witnesses if they met with counsel for the Enron defendants. Now, the government has asked the court to unseal the six declarations because the claims are prejudicial to the government's case by raising claims of prosecutorial misconduct that the government contends are baseless.
The government seems to view the defense claims as part of an effort to condition the jury pool to view the defendants favorably, although its request to unseal the documents does not appear to provide much benefit to the government other than showing it is willing to fight back on every front. A Houston Chronicle article (here) discusses another front in the battle as the defense seeks to have the judge give the jury pool an extensive questionnaire that includes asking about their favorite television show, among other things. Does liking SpongeBob SquarePants reveal much? (ph)
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