August 10, 2004
Now!

Kenny Boy says "Try me now!"


Ex-Enron Chairman Ken Lay wants to go to trial immediately and alone, possibly without a jury, and he's ponied up some $15 million to get it done, according to court papers filed Monday.

Lay, who faces 11 criminal charges, was indicted along with former Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling and former top accountant Rick Causey. As expected for weeks, Lay's Houston lawyer, Mike Ramsey, asked U.S. District Judge Sim Lake on Monday to separate Lay from his alleged co-conspirators and try Lay in mid-September.

"We are ready for trial now. We are ready for a trial with a jury. We are ready for a trial without a jury," Ramsey said. He said they'd prefer a jury, but if it will slow the case too much, Lay will waive his right to a jury trial and be tried by the judge "as long as it's speedy."

Ramsey said he wants the trial over before the November election. He said his client is innocent and has suffered enough.

He called the media to the courthouse when he filed his motions and complained about what he called the politicizing of Lay's charges in self-congratulatory prosecutorial press conferences. Ramsey said he thinks the Lay charges seven about Enron and four about personal banking can be tried in three weeks to Lake and about eight weeks if a jury hears it.

Almost every Enron defendant has asked that their case be severed from co-defendants. Lawyers said this is because sitting in a group accused of conspiracy can make everyone look more guilty. Attorneys familiar with the case say that though it's risky for Lay to speed to trial, the benefit of sitting alone at the table could be priceless.


Interesting, and I think pretty shrewd if he can get away with it. Certainly the parade of high-profile perp walks bolsters the prosecution's efforts - you're not going to find twelve people who know nothing about this, after all - so eliminating the jury makes sense. While Jeff Skilling is pretty much universally despised, there are still people who have some warmth for Ken Lay due to his Houston boosterism, so severing the two trials has got to be good strategy for the defense. Finally, even though they forced the issue by making the arrest, the feds probably don't have all of their ducks in a row yet. So it all makes sense, even if it seems risky.

Meanwhile, as Tom Kirkendall notes, the trial for the Nigerian Barge Case will begin on Monday. So much Enron action, so little time.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 10, 2004 to Enronarama | TrackBack
Comments

"We are ready for trial now. We are ready for a trial with a jury. We are ready for a trial without a jury," Ramsey said. He said they'd prefer a jury, but if it will slow the case too much, Lay will waive his right to a jury trial and be tried by the judge "as long as it's speedy."

Will he try it in a box?
Will he try it in his socks?
Will he try it here today?
Will he try it, Kenny Lay?

(Sorry folks, it was too good to pass up) ;-)

Posted by: William Hughes on August 10, 2004 2:44 PM

Very smart move. I worked on the (civil case) Enron document review for five of the worst weeks of my life, and I can tell you, there's no way the government could have gotten through those 10 million pages of documents to find enough clear-cut evidence for a jury to convict Lay.

I hear people complaining about how fast Martha Stewart was sent to trial and why are those Enron bastards still walking free? The difference is that the Stewart case arose out of one transaction, a single phone call and the subsequent investigation. The issues were clear and easy to present to a jury. The Enron case involves thousands of transactions over several years involving a multitude of entities -- some legitimate, some not. Add to that the fact that the knowledge of Lay and his actual culpability hasn't been well established (from what I know from public sources), and you get a situation where the defense feels that by pushing the right to a speedy trial, they can force the government into putting on its case well before it's ready.

The only thing I'm surprised about is the insistence on moving forward even without a jury. He must not have that much faith in how sympathetic he would be to a jury. In that case, I'm surprised he didn't move for a change of venue.

Posted by: zuzu on August 10, 2004 7:30 PM

"The only thing I'm surprised about is the insistence on moving forward even without a jury. He must not have that much faith in how sympathetic he would be to a jury. In that case, I'm surprised he didn't move for a change of venue."

...or...could he be expecting a pardon from an outgoing President Bush? :)

Just a thought.

Posted by: Mike in Austin on August 11, 2004 9:32 AM