No joke. I'm as serious as a heart attack.
Now I realize lots of folks are berating themselves (or others) for uncivil comments regarding the alleged demise of Ken Lay. I say alleged because, frankly, I only have hearsay evidence that he is actually dead.
But let's assume he really is dead... I know lots of folks are going to start talking about the poor grieving families (his, not the ones of workers he screwed)... hold that thought for a second because the stuff below the fold is not good for people with high blood pressure:
Mr. Skilling's legal team will almost certainly invoke Mr. Lay's demise to try to reverse his own fraud and conspiracy conviction or demand a retrial, legal experts said yesterday.
That's because Mr. Lay's death Wednesday of an apparent heart attack effectively voids the entire case against the Enron founder, including the guilty verdict. Mr. Skilling, the former Enron chief executive officer who is appealing his own conviction, could now argue that much of the evidence against him stems from a case that no longer exists, argued lawyer Jacob Frenkel, a former federal prosecutor and white collar crime specialist.
If that sounds like claptrap consider this well-accepted analogy:
You are tried and convicted.
However, the evidence against you was obtained through an illegal search.
You appeal and argue you were found guilty based on tainted evidence.
The appeals court declares the evidence inadmissable.
Your conviction is overturned.
Think that is comparing apples to oranges? Consider this high probability scenario:
Federal prosecutors may be stymied in their bid to seize Mr. Lay's assets. A recent appeals court ruling in the U.S. Fifth Circuit, where Mr. Skilling and Mr. Lay were tried, determined that when a defendant dies before he has exhausted all his appeals "everything associated with the case is extinguished, leaving the defendant as if he had never been indicted or convicted."
They said everything associated with the case is extinquished. That includes the evidence. How can you convict Skilling if you have no evidence a crime was committed?
If I was Skilling, I'd be attending both memorial services in Houston and Colorado too. It would be my way of saying thanks to Ken on the off-chance someone might be able to get that message to him for me.