Feds seek power to preserve convictions

HOUSTON, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. prosecutors want Congress to pass a law so the death of former Enron Corp. chairman Ken Lay won't result in a clean criminal record.

Justice Department lawyers filed a draft of a proposed law in federal court that would stop judges from vacating criminal convictions if a defendant dies before exhausting all appeals, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday.


Lay's lawyers, using precedent, have filed a motion for his conviction to be tossed out.

On Wednesday federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Sim Lake to delay ruling on the motion until after Oct. 23, the previously scheduled sentencing date for Lay, so Congress can consider a new law that would protect victims.

The existing precedent, prosecutors argued, "erases the hard-won verdicts against those who have wronged them, verdicts that might aid crime victims in civil litigation."

The legal community seems stunned by prosecutors' initiative.

"It's beyond desperate. It's vindictive," said Houston trial lawyer David Berg. "Prosecutors are supposed to strike hard blows, not foul blows. This is foul."

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