The trials of Rick Causey, Jeff Skilling, and Kenny Boy Lay will not be moved to another venue.
Despite their plea to be tried outside of Houston, a federal judge ruled today that the fate and future freedom of ex-Enron chieftains Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling will be put in the hands of a Houston-area jury.
U.S. District Judge Sim Lake found that the two former top executives and their chief accounting officer, Richard Causey, all accused of multiple counts of fraud and other felonies, could indeed find a fair jury among the citizens of Harris County and 13 adjacent counties.
"Although news coverage about Enron's collapse, this case, and these defendants has been extensive, the court is not persuaded that it has been so inflammatory or pervasive as to create a presumption that there exists a reasonable likelihood that pretrial publicity will prevent a fair trial," Judge Lake wrote in a 24-page opinion.
Though the judge cited several instances of the Houston Chronicle and other media columns and feature items poking fun at the defendants, the judge said "isolated incidents of intemperate commentary about the alleged crimes and their perpetrators do not rise to the level of 'inflammatory' where, as here, for the most part, the reporting appears to have been objective and unemotional."
Lake said "the facts of this case are neither heinous nor sensational" as he said were most of the cases cited by the defendants requesting the case be moved.