Thursday, July 06, 2006

Shit ain't right.

Reader Leslie alerted me to this lede in the New York Times:

HOUSTON, July 5 — In yet another bizarre twist to the Enron saga, the sudden death of Kenneth L. Lay on Wednesday may have spared his survivors financial ruin. Mr. Lay's death effectively voids the guilty verdict against him, temporarily thwarting the federal government's efforts to seize his remaining real estate and financial assets, legal experts say.

The verdict can be voided because under the Constitution, Ken Lay had the right to participate in his criminal appeal. An Eschaton reader suggests that Lay's lawyers have to petition the court to void the conviction, and that the prosecution can fight it.

This doesn't prohibit the civil suits against him to go forward, but it makes it more difficult. According to Time Magazine:

Lay's death won't stop the civil suits filed against him, however. In a civil case, a person can die and the case can go on; for example, if someone is killed in a nursing home, the family can sue. But [white collar crime attorney] Androphy says there will now be some restrictions limiting punitive damages. It's unclear if Lay's estate will be responsible for his criminal fines. Last week, prosecutors asked for $43.5 million.

Hmmm. Coronary artery disease. Suddenly, Occam's Razor doesn't seem so sharp.