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Skilling's Attorney: 'Honest Services' Needs to be Defined

When former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling appeals to the Supreme Court the 2006 conviction that sent him to prison for a 24-year sentence, his defense will argue that the "honest services" statute under which he was convicted lacks clarity, Skilling's attorney Daniel Petrocelli told CNBC Monday.

"Criminal laws are subject to a basic rule: they must tell people what is forbidden by law and what is not," Petrocelli said. "Our position is that it's hopelessly vague and should be invalidated, or at the very minimum, clear guidance should be given as to what it means."

Petrocelli went on to say that the securities fraud statutes were designed to deal with issues of honesty and public communication, adding that he thinks the government uses the "honest services" statute when it doesn't have clear evidence of fraud.

He said it is especially important to clarfiy the definition of this term in wake of the financial crisis, as it could be used to punish those whose business decisions the government doesn't agree with.

Petrocelli will also argue that the Houston community was "pervasively biased" against Skilling, and that if the case requires a retrial, it should be done elsewhere.

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