From Federal Prison, Ex-Enron CEO Ponders His Case

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On June 25, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its partially favorable decision in Skilling v. United States. Although the Court accepted former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling’s arguments on the reach of the “honest services” statute, it rejected Skilling’s contention that pretrial publicity and community prejudice prevented him from receiving a fair trial.

Since his conviction in 2004, Skilling has had ample time to consider what he would do differently if given the chance. CNN contributor Archelle Georgiou posed that very question during a jailhouse interview in 2008. Anticipating the Supreme Court decision, she recently published an article based on his response. When Georgiou asked him how he would alter his legal strategy, Skilling said he would (i) plead the Fifth; (ii) go on an aggressive public-relations offensive; and (iii) avoid sarcasm. See Skilling Speaks: Enron CEO’s Jailhouse Interview.

Although Georgiou’s article is informative, some of her observations seem bizarre. She is astonished that the incarcerated Skilling has to ask her for a 50-cent French-vanilla latte, but discusses his yoga practice, daily four-mile walks and low-carb diet as though these might not be equally astonishing to some people. Other observations are seriously flawed (her romantic description of Skilling as a principled individual who would rather go to jail than “not give voice to his side of the Enron tragedy,” is untenable given his statement that, in hindsight, he should have pleaded the Fifth!). These weaknesses aside, Skilling’s first and second points amount to good advice.

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