Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling is appealing his 2006 conviction to the Supreme Court. In a 50-page petition filed Monday afternoon, Skilling's attorneys argue the conviction should be overturned because he did not put his own interest above Enron's as the government claimed, and because the Houston jury that convicted him was prejudiced by "pervasive media coverage."
Skilling was convicted in May, 2006 on 19 counts, including conspiracy, fraud and insider trading. He had served as Enron CEO for just six months, resigning in August, 2001.
Enron filed for bankruptcy December of that year, in one of the most notorious corporate collapses in U.S. history. Skilling's attorneys, led by his trial attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, argue his "business decisions were lawful, and the risks were fully vetted by outside advisors and the Enron Board ... and all relevant information was disclosed to investors."
According to the appeal, the government prosecuted Skilling for withholding his "honest services" from Enron shareholders. But his attorneys argue he always put their interests ahead of his own. The petition asks the high court to consider whether the "honest services" statute is "unconstitutionally vague."
"The government did not contend, and the record did not suggest in any way, that Skilling intended to put his own interests ahead of Enron's," the petition says.
The appeal also asks Justices to consider the extent to which defendants are entitled to a "presumption of prejudice" in high profile cases. "Skilling was pronounced guilty throughout Houston long before trial," the petition argues.
Video: Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling appeals his 2006 conviction.
An appeals court agreed earlier this year that there was prejudice in Houston, where thousands of people lost their jobs and savings in Enron's collapse. But the court ruled the jury selection process in the case sufficiently dealt with the prejudice.
The appeals court did rule that Skilling's 24-year prison sentence was too harsh, and ordered a re-sentencing by the trial judge, Sim Lake of Houston. The re-sentencing has been postponed, however, as the judge considers allegations by Skilling of misconduct on the part of the government's Enron Task Force.
Skilling has been in prison since December, 2006. He is currently housed at a low security federal prison in Englewood, Colo.