Free Jeff Skilling

The United States Supreme Court took a substantial step toward doing just that yesterday when it vacated Skilling’s conviction under the federal “honest services” wire fraud statute, and remanded the case to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether Skilling’s conviction on other charges against him was so tainted by the government’s reliance on the “honest services” theory that they all must be dismissed. Tom Kirkendall, Larry Ribstein and Stephen Bainbridge, all of whom have blogged extensively on the Enron case and the over-criminalization of business over the years, have more details on their various sites.

Skilling’s case – which is perhaps the most egregious example of the criminalization of business conduct in the most recent generation of ani-business prosecutions – now heads back to the lower courts and further litigation. In addition to the honest services question now put into play by yesterday’s ruling, there remain issues relating to Skilling’s sentencing and his motion for a new trial based upon prosecutorial misconduct to resolve. It would certainly appear that the convictions that the government managed to claim are but a house of cards waiting to topple. Here’s hoping that yesterday’s ruling is a further step toward not only freeing Jeff Skilling, but to also reigning in the nonsensical criminalization of bad business decisions and poor judgment.

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