In a 54-page memorandum, the Enron Task Force argued that although ex-Chief Executive Officer Skilling commissioned a poll that showed one-third of the potential jury pool called him negative names, that also means two-thirds had nothing negative to say about him.
"Enormous numbers of Houston residents have scant knowledge of Skilling, much less negative sentiments that would disqualify the entire community from being able to provide 12 fair and impartial jurors and alternates," said the papers filed by task force director Andrew Weissmann and his four-lawyer team on this case.
Prosecutors argued Friday that the law requires a far more extraordinary amount of presumed prejudice in an area for a trial to be moved. The government said even a large volume of pre-trial publicity and a jury pool exposed to it do not mean a fair trial cannot be had.
Media coverage has been nationwide, even global, prosecutors argued. And they say, "The Constitution does not require a jury comprised of people who do not read the newspaper; it requires a jury of people who have not formed unshakable opinions and will base their verdict on the evidence and the law."
A limited survey conducted by the government showed a majority of those polled in Phoenix and Houston were aware of the Enron case — 70 percent in Phoenix and 90 percent in Houston. The government argued that another city, where publicity would become intense if the trial were moved, would be no better.