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October 18, 2006

Ken Lay's conviction vacated

Though presidents and Governor's rarely grant pardons anymore, abatement doctrines mean that the grim reaper still can: as detailed in this Reuters account, Judge Sim Lake yesterday "dismissed the conspiracy and fraud convictions of Enron Corp. founder Ken Lay because he died before he could appeal."  For traditional media coverage, check out the Houston Chronicle, the New York Times and Washington Post; for blogosphere highlights and commentary, check out the WSJ Law Blog, White Collar Crime Prof Blog and Houston's Clear Thinkers.

Judge Lake's memorandum opinion is available here, and sentencing fans may be most interested in the effort by a claimed Enron victim to use the new Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA) to oppose vacating Lay's convictions.  Judge Lake gave these arguments short shrift, but a news report indicates that victim plans to appeal.  This part of the decision could become real interesting because the CVRA requires a circuit court to resolve a mandamus action brought pursuant to the CVRA very quickly.

Some recent related posts on victims' rights:

October 18, 2006 at 07:03 AM | Permalink


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» Wednesday Roundup from ACSBlog: The Blog of the American Constitution Society
Ken Lay's conviction has been vacated, on account of his death. As Doug Berman notes, however, this decision will be appealed. Brian Tamanaha recounts his experience as a federal prosecutor who was hit mid-trial with criminal charges, and not allowed... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2006 4:58:17 PM


that's all well and good, but Judge Lake was exactly right in his opinion.
The victim has and always has had the option to bring a civil suit against the defendant (or the estate of the defendant as the case may be) if a restitution order is not sufficient, or if it is vacated, as it was here.
Every Circuit in the country follows the abatement doctrine in general, but some do not abate crimina restitution orders even after the defendant dies before a final decision is made on his appeal. Too bad for the Enron victims that Lay was tried in the 5th Circuit, as opposed to the Third, which does not abate restitution orders even after the defendant's conviction abates because of his death before an appellate decision is handed down.

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