Monday, January 9, 2006
Yesterday was not a particularly good day for Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, that is if one uses wins and losses in pre-trial motions as the criteria. The Houston Chronicle reports here that U.S. District Judge Sim Lake denied their motion to dismiss the charges. (See Ken Lay's Website here) The court found no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct and no evidence of government intimidation. A claim had been made that witnesses were being intimidated by the government so that they would not cooperate with defense counsel's investigation.
Jeff Skilling also has more to contend with at trial as a result of yesterday's events. This is as a result of Mark Koenig changing his plea to now state that Skilling had made a false statement that Koenig originally claimed to only be his own statement. (See Houston Chronicle here). The Houston Chronicle states, "The change in the plea agreement facts is apparently because Koenig heard a tape of the analyst call and felt that it was Skilling and not himself who made the quoted remark."
This is unusual to say the least. It basically means that a key witness must have originally misstated something to the government. In addition to a desire to present truthful testimony, why would someone want to correct this plea statement? It hurt Koenig more the way it was first stated then when it was corrected, but this in and of itself would do little to help Koenig. The statement now, however, provides additional evidence against Skilling, evidence that might prove useful in the upcoming case to be presented by the government. Koenig is facing a possible sentence of ten years and one has to wonder if his sentence will be further reduced by his providing this additional evidence to the government, evidence that goes against Skilling?
The interplay of these two motions present an interesting contrast. Could it be that perhaps the government does not directly intimidate witnesses, but that the benefits it offers to those who cooperate are so strong that it results in a desire for these individuals not to assist the defense, but rather to assist the government.
Addendum - Check out Houston ClearThinkers here.