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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lay Case: It's Not Over

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Prosecutors want Congress to quickly pass a law that would prevent Ken Lay's conviction from being wiped out because of his death.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a draft of a proposed law Wednesday in district court that would essentially prevent judges from vacating criminal convictions if a defendant dies before going through the entire appeals process.

Under current precedent, when a defendant dies, the conviction against him, even the indictment, can be thrown out. Lay's defense team has already filed a motion for such a move, citing a U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals case involving a Texas man who was convicted but died before his appeals were exhausted.

But the government wants U.S. District Judge Sim Lake to delay ruling on the motion until after Oct. 23, the previously scheduled sentencing date for the late Enron chairman and his co-defendant and former CEO, Jeff Skilling, so Congress can consider the proposed law.

In the filing, the prosecutors argued that vacating the case is unfair to crime victims.

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