Friday, March 24, 2006

"Deliberate ignorance?"

Will the overturning of the conviction of Frank Quattrone have repercussions in the Enron trial?

TIME magazine notes:

In the case of Quattrone, known for leading IPOs for Amazon and Netscape during the dot-com boom, the appeals court said the trial judge erred by instructing jurors that Quattrone did not have to intend or knowingly commit a crime when telling subordinates via e-mail to "clean up" their files during a government investigation of Quattrone's former investment firm. The government argued that Quattrone was e-mailing specifically about subpoenaed documents. The defense said he wasn't. The trial judge told the jury it didn't matter.

The ruling has put more attention on the instructions that Judge Simeon T. Lake ultimately will give to the jury in the Enron trial. "In the Enron trial there's going to be a battle royal over a jury instruction known as deliberate ignorance," says Houston attorney David Berg, author of The Trial Lawyer: What It Takes to Win. " In Lay and Skilling's case it's, 'I didn't know what was going on in the company.' Deliberate-ignorance jury instructions have held a person criminally liable when their denial of knowledge doesn't make sense. But now the judge is going to have to instruct the jury that Skilling and Lay had to know about the criminal behavior that's been alleged against them."

Read the rest here.

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