NEW ORLEANS, April 2 (UPI) -- There is a chance a U.S. court in New Orleans will overturn some or all of the convictions of former Enron chief Jeff Skilling, court observers said Wednesday.
Skilling's lawyers were given 30 minutes at the 5th Circuit Appeals Court Wednesday to summarize arguments previously filed in court papers. Skilling was convicted in May 2006 of 12 counts of securities fraud, one of insider trading and five of making false statements to auditors, and is serving a 24-year, four-month prison sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca, Minn.
His lawyers argue that the "honest services" argument, used by prosecutors to secure most of his convictions, is flawed, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The theory backfired on prosecutors when five convictions against Enron's Chief Financial Officer Kevin Howard were overturned on appeal. Lawyers pointed out Howard had not stolen or embezzled from the company, and said Skilling too had not been accused of stealing from the company.
"Traditionally in that court, the government wins 95 percent of the time by spelling its name right on the cover of the brief. But this is not your ordinary case," Houston appellate lawyer Brian Wice told the newspaper.
The insider trading conviction will be more difficult to overturn, however, some analysts said.