This is the paper seeks to look into the high profile white collar criminal, Jeffrey skilling.
Skilling was accused of many crimes including fraud, inside trading and crimes that were related to the collapse of Enron Corporation. He was found to be guilty of inside trading, conspiracy, making false statements to auditors and securities fraud.
What sentence did Jeffrey Skilling’s initially receive?
Jeffrey Skilling’s was sentenced to 24 years in prison at the initial sentence. He was sentenced for substantially jeopardizing the safety of a reputable financial institution. However, this was improper since there was no substantial evidence that Enron Corporation was a financial institution. The other initial sentenced that Jeffrey Skilings was sentenced for fraud, inside trading and crimes that were related to the collapse of Enron Corporation. He was sentenced in 2006 and is currently servicing a 24 year sentence for these charges. Jeffrey Skilling was sentenced and convicted on 19 to 28 counts of fraud and inside trading. He was not only sentenced to 24 years in prison but was also ordered to pay $630 million to the Government and a $ 180 fine on the same. A number of other employees pleaded guilty for the crimes committed at Enron Corporation and were found guilty and convicted for the crimes and giving false statements.
Was this sentence appropriate for the crime or the harm done?
This question has been asked by many people and answered by the same in different aspects but none of them seem to agree on whether or not the sentence was appropriate. Other people were in support of the sentence while others were against the sentence. According to many analyst, this sentence was an exaggeration or too much for such a ‘petty’ crime. The indictments were basically on the fact that Stilling had probable knowledge of , and was likely involved with the fraudulent transactions with Enron Corporation. He was alleged to have sold shares with inside information on the status of Enron Corporation bankruptcy .Many people including Skilling’s attorneys protested against the in house court proceedings, citing that it would be an unfair trial but their protests fell on deaf ears. This is because an in house court sitting would not allow maximum media coverage. According to the wall street journal, on 17th June 2006, Skilling claimed that Enron’s bankruptcy had affected him immensely to the extent of contemplating to commit suicide, he commented that the indictment had lifted his spirits and got him out of his depression. Many analysts wonder if this was true or simply a way to attract pity from the prosecution and judges. There are many aspects in this case that did not make sense, and many analysts wonder and ask if it was a fair trial. This is because most of Skilling’s requests were denied, including his request to remain free during the trial. This case was treated so harshly, it was worse that a murder trial. Many questions have emerged and many wonder if there was an underlying reason for such a harsh sentence apart from those that killing’s was initially accused of.
This trial was not fair and the sentence was not appropriate for this crime at all. A sentence of 24 years and four months in prison for conspiracy, inside trading, making false statement to auditors and fraud is on the higher side. It was actually noted as ‘’ serious frailties’’ which was not fair. However other analyst believes that this sentence was not enough for the crimes that Skilling’s committed, they suggest that the correct sentence would have been 35 years for all the 35 counts that he was accused of. They also attributed this sentence to Skilling’s wrong doing which needed maximum punishment. Jeffrey skilling was proved guilty for these crimes, which he denied being part of. The court proceedings were not fair on Skilling’s side. It was like attending a court that already knew the verdict before hearing of the case. The Government determined that the ruling was appropriate. Many readers and the people who carefully followed the Skilling case, found Skilling’s conviction ridiculous, they insisted that the punishment far outweighed the crimes that were committed. Some readers suggested that such a hard punishment was good in order to teach others like Skilling. Others actually thought that the sentence was too light and they suggested that for such a crime Skilling’s was better off getting a death penalty. However, the question is, does deception and corruption deserve a death penalty? How many people around the world are guilty of deception and corruption? Are they being sentenced for their crimes? Take for example; the politicians who are corrupt and deceptive? Have they ever been sentenced for this crime? It is therefore crystal clear that Skilling’s did not deserve such a conviction for a crime of corruption and deception.
What was the outcome of the sentence in this case?
In 2008, Jeffrey Skilling case was reviewed and quite a number of inconsistencies were discovered. The case was therefore reopened. Skilling’s attorneys argued that even if Skilling’s committed fraud or illegal financial misconduct, it was for the of purpose saving the company and he never profited from the gains. However, this approach provided a very narrow chance the killing’s original case ruling to be overturned. Analyst believe that Skilling’s only chance was to cite a court decision that threw out guilty verdicts of the three bankers that were accused of helping Skilling’s and Enron Corporation in committing the fraudulent activities.
In 2010, the court of appeal finally agreed to listen to Skilling’s appeal on two controversial cases. The first case was based on the fraud statue title 18 of the United States code, section 1946.The main question that was put forward by Skilling’s defense team was on whether or not the ‘’ honest service’’requred the Governments prove that was initially intended to achieve’’ private gain’. This simply means that the question was whether or not the Skilling’s involvement in the fraudulent activities of Enron Corporation was because of a honest service and not for private gain. The second argument was based on the issued on in house judging. The questions was’’ how can we be satisfied that a fair jury was picked when the judge did not follow up when the witness said,’ am a victim of this crime’?’’The Supreme Court made a ruling that saw the nullification of Skilling honest service fraud conviction. The court found that Skilling’s conviction had no grounds or justifications on bribe or kick back. The case was therefore ordered back to the lower courts for the review of the charges. Skilling’s’ defense team was however optimistic that the lower courts would have no option but to overturn the rulings. They were optimistic that soon Jeffrey Skilling would be a free man. That is yet to be seen, many people, analyst and those who are affected by similar cases are patiently awaiting the final ruling of the lower courts. The ruling will defiantly set a precedent on all other similar cases. The case could however, take a turn for the worst if the lower case ruling does not over turn the judgment. In such a case analyst see a scenario that could mean or lead to a reduced charge of 15 to 20 years. Skilling’s defendants have stated that if this happens, they will be forced to go back to the appeal courts. This means that the sentenced was not completely reversed but was partially reversed on appeal.
What is the comparison between the first outcomes of Skilling case to the fate of criminal defendants who were convicted?
The United States court of appeal ruling will have a great impact and will greatly affect the fates of criminal defendants who are convicted. The high court will have to address the confusion on whether honest service will apply or will not apply. This case is more likely to be sent back to the circuit courts in order to reconsider. This hones stature argument will probably be used by many defenders and prosecutors on criminals who are convicted on the same grounds. The Supreme Court ruling simply said that the judgment of this case went too far. This could mean freedom for Jeffrey Skilling and many other criminal defendants who have been convicted on similar charges. This ruling has immensely compromised the main tool that is used by many prosecutors to go after corporate officials. However, many people including Skilling’s lawyers have seen this as a land mark victory. This is case will have a very big impact on other similar cases; the ruling will affect in a big way the rulings in other cases and the fate of criminal defendants who are convicted for the same. This case will end up disturbing and complicating the Governments practice of over criminalizing the conducts of those in the business sector that do not violate any criminal law to deserve such harsh treatments and convictions. The legality of the Skilling’s case will have an impact on the recipients and the participants in similar cases. In such a case the ruling will aid other rulings of similar nature until sustainable or alternative replacement a ruling is implemented. This ruling will provide information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. And the provisions of the information will guide the other cases to contribute to positive rulings on related fates of criminals who are convicted of the same. Therefore, the outcome of this case will contribute to positive, social and environmental change on the ability of Governments and other policy makers to make more careful decisions on such cases. This can be categorized as cause for supporting other outcomes of such cases. The outcome of this case is an inspiration to all other outcomes of other cases. All other similar cases will need to be assessed on the same level or at higher level but in the same precedent.
The first time the Jeffrey Skilling case was heard, majority of the newspapers read; Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Jeffrey Skilling was actually convicted long before the case hearings began. Every one, every newspaper, every Television station convicted him. The deep wounds from the collapse of Enron Corporation affected the employees, the family and the friends of Jeffrey Skilling and continue to do so. His release or trial could release or retrial could cause outrage. Thus the case of Jeffrey Skilling of Enron will continue to draw interest, concern and other many reactions for many days or years to come.