June 4, 2006
Evaluating Enron Related Prosecutions
A fascinating story in the NY Times here titled, "The Enron Case That Almost Wasn't" sums up the prosecution case against Ken Lay - "Mr. Lay was a liar." Larry Ribstein on Ideoblog raises some important questions about the government approach here. The Conglomerate Blog here, held an online symposium on Enron that covered significant issues raised by this trial.
The question now is whether being a liar should be a crime, and how is the government able to prosecute this type of activity under existing federal statutes. The answer is that federal statutes are written broadly to allow for prosecutions of ever-expanding forms of criminality. (see Brian Walsh's entry on Overcriminalized.Com here) Further, the vast number of criminal statutes in the federal code, allow for prosecutors to pick and choose which crimes they want to proceed with. But would this conduct need to be prosecuted if the statutes were clear, if there were a limited number of federal statutes, and if people knew what they were doing was wrong? (see post here on overcriminalization).
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