Supreme Court Rejects Jeff Skilling’s Honest Services Fraud Conviction

by Kurt Schulzke on June 25, 2010

Business executives everywhere can breath a sigh of relief this morning after the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) yesterday struck down former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling’s convictions for so-called “honest services fraud”.  While the SCOTUS decision temporarily leaves intact Skilling’s other convictions, they are now on life-support. More on this theme in my March 2008 blog entry, Jeff Skilling is Innocent, and Tom Kirkendall’s excellent Skilling Wins at the Supreme Court.  The fundamental injustice and market foolishness of Skilling’s conviction were also the subject of my October 2007 presentation to the North Atlanta GSCPA, Skilling Appeals.

The full text of the SCOTUS Skilling opinion (written by J. Ginsburg) can currently be accessed through the SCOTUS Slip Opinion site.  Interesting that J. Sotomayor, with more trial experience than any other Justice, was (shockingly, in my view) the only one of the nine justices to agree with Skilling that his Houston jury was tainted by pre-trial publicity.  But no matter: Skilling is on the verge of getting out of jail entirely or receiving a significantly shorter sentence.

This decision at least partially restores my faith in the judicial system and makes me wonder if I’ve misjudged Ginsberg and Sotomayor.  Good for them.  Good for Skilling.  Good for America.

Question for another day:  How will Congress — now in the final stages of negotiating yet another ill-advised financial markets “reform” — respond to this SCOTUS decision?