Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ken Lay is not a convicted criminal

Because he died before his direct appeal was final, Ken Lay's conviction is technically abated, which means that his entire criminal case is treated as though it never existed. (The conviction and sentence of a defendant is vacated when he dies if his appeal is yet to be decided. See Schreiber v. Sharpless, 110 U.S. 76,80 (1884)). My first case at the Federal Defender's office involved this issue, albiet in a different way.

UPDATE -- White Collar Crime Blog has more about the law in the Fifth Circuit:

In a recent Fifth Circuit decision, United States v. Estate of Parsons, 367 F.3d 409 (5th Cir. 2004), the court explained that "the appeal does not just disappear, and the case is not merely dismissed. Instead, everything associated with the case is extinguished, leaving the defendant as if he had never been indicted or convicted." In Parsons, the court vacated a forfeiture order, which means that the government's forfeiture claim against Lay for $43.5 million will be dismissed. The Fifth Circuit explained the rationale for the rule: "The finality principle reasons that the state should not label one as guilty until he has exhausted his opportunity to appeal. The punishment principle asserts that the state should not punish a dead person or his estate." An interesting question is whether one can still describe Lay as having been convicted of a crime, at least in a technical sense, because the law no longer recognizes there having been any criminal case initiated against him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is B.S. This is like saying that Jack Ruby, who was never convicted of the Murder of Oswald:

"Eventually, the appellate court agreed with Ruby's lawyers for a new trial, and in November 1966 ruled that his motion for a change of venue before the original trial court should have been granted. Ruby's conviction and death sentence were overturned. Arrangements for a new trial in February 1967, in Wichita Falls, Texas, were under way, when, on December 9, 1966, Ruby was admitted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, apparently suffering from pneumonia. Ruby died of a pulmonary embolism at Parkland Hospital on January 3, 1967. Coincidentally, Parkland is also the hospital where President Kennedy was taken and Lee Harvey Oswald died."