Petrocelli for the Defense at Enron

Daniel Petrocelli, Jeffrey Skilling's attorney, is as smooth as the other side of the pillow. He is in the middle of his closing argument right now in the fraud and conspiracy trial of Skilling and former Enron Chairman Ken Lay and Petrocelli got right to his best point-- the lack of any significant paper trail linking his client to any of the fraud that occurred at Enron.

"Documents don't lie, people do," Petrocelli told jurors early on in his argument, and the videotapes and documents introduced at the trial are "Jeff's best witnesses." He wants jurors focusing upon what Skilling said publicly about Enron and not upon what government witnesses accuse him of saying privately. And he wants jurors during deliberations to sort through the written evidence in vain looking for the "gotcha" text that would doom Skilling. Petrocelli knows-- and he knows the jury knows-- that no such text truly exists.

The defense attorney also ridiculed the feds' conspiracy case against the two men. "Conspiracy," he told the panel, "is the forgotten word in this trial... Do you know when this conspiracy started?... Was there a meeting? Some kind of conversation? When? Where did it happen? Can you answer these questions? If you hestitate... we win."

And, predictably and necessarily, he went after the government's star witness, former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow, the man who most directly linked Skilling to criminal conduct. "Fastow was a bad apple," Petrocelli told jurors, "put him aside." The only time "anyone acted guilty," the lawyer said, "was when they were forced to sign contracts with the United States government to buy back their lives." Here, Petrocelli wants jurors skeptical about the motivation of the many former Enron officials who testified against Lay and Skilling during this long trial.

Before Petrocelli got to the substance of his argument, he grabbed the jury's attention by telling them that "for the past two years, I've felt like I've had Jeff's life in my hands" and I really don't want to let him go. "There are a lot of fears that I have," he continued, that in the three hours I have with you folks that I'm not going to be able to explain everything clearly to you, that I'm going to overlook certain things...." My guess is that Petrocelli, the man who convinced a civil jury that O.J. Simpson indeed killed his wife and her friend, won't overlook much as he tries to poke holes in the government's show case.

More this afternoon, after Lay's attorneys get their chance.


By  |  May 16, 2006; 11:15 AM ET
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As Skillng's attorney finished his closing summation, I got a flashback to the OJ Simpson trial where skilled attorneys created reasonable doubt for Simpson not to be convicted whereas there was a lot of hard physical evidence that doesnt exist in the Enron trial. Once again,justice is bought by those wealthy enough to afford the best defense attorneys.

Posted by: C. Greene | May 16, 2006 04:08 PM

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