US High court sides with ex-Enron chief

The US Supreme Court has sided with former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling in limiting the use of a federal fraud law that has been a favourite of white-collar crime prosecutors.

Updated: Jun 24, 2010, 21:59 PM IST

Washington: The US Supreme Court has sided
with former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling in limiting the
use of a federal fraud law that has been a favourite of
white-collar crime prosecutors.

The court in this ruling also sided with former newspaper
magnate Conrad Black, setting aside a federal appeals court
decision that had upheld Black`s honest services fraud
conviction. But as in Skilling`s case, the justices left the
ultimate resolution of the case to the appeals court.
The court said today that the "honest services" law could
not be used in convicting Skilling for his role in the 200
collapse of the energy company Enron that cost thousands of
jobs and billions of dollars. But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
said in her majority opinion that the ruling does not
necessarily require Skilling`s conviction to be overturned.

During arguments in December and March, several justices
seemed inclined to limit prosecutors` use of this law, which
critics have said is vague and has been used to make a crime
out of mistakes and minor transgressions in the business and
political world.

The court, at the same time, rejected Skilling`s claim
that he did not get a fair trial in Houston because of harshly
critical publicity that surrounded the case in Enron`s
hometown.
Today`s ruling could affect the current prosecution of
former Illinois Gov Rod Blagojevich.

The government argues that both Skilling`s and Black`s
convictions should be sustained, even with the court`s ruling
today.

Lawyers for the two men say that the entire case against
them should be thrown out.

PTI