[Ed's note: Originally posted 7.19.2004]
As you all know, there is a sword of Damocles hanging over Ken Lay's head. Well, maybe 11 swords. Although no evidence has been presented, although no witnesses have been cross-examined, Ken Lay has been convicted. That upsets me. And so...
Welcome to a new feature. This week will be Ken Lay week. It will be Ken Lay every day. Why?
Well, I became very interested in this case after watching the prosecution's and defense's press conferences. It was almost unprecedented for a criminal defendant to discuss the case against him on live television. That took guts. His lawyer, a home-spun Texan who embodies the ideal of the Southern Gentleman, was ready to fight. Forget delays, we are ready for trial. Forget discovery, we do not care what documents the prosecution has. We have some documents, too. And guess what? You won't see them until trial.
When I heard Ramsey speak, my heart rate increased. Here is a lawyer to admire. Here is a lawyer with guts.
Then there was the government's lawyer. The assistant united states attorney (AUSA) seemed smug and self-assured. He seemed more concerned with sucking in the limelight than with justice. I do not believe that the prosecutorial sword should be used to collect trophies. Martha's head was enough.
I predicted - without having seen the Indictment - that Lay would walk. He has credibility, as does his attorney. I also didn't think a Texas jury would be keen on the DOJ folks from D.C. waltzing into their Texas courtroom spouting off fancy language. I said that if Lay is convicted at all, it will be on something insignificant (compared to the awful things the media has already tried and convicted him of). Yet this was a foolish prediction given that the legal counts against Lay were unknown to me. Not one to play the fool, I sought to learn more.
Unfortunately, I learned that the press accounts are garbage. The "legal commentary" has mostly consisted of pop culture slogans and references to acts not charged in the Indictment. "He ruined the company and must pay," for example. Well, unless there is a federal crime for "ruining a company," and unless this crime is charged, such lines do not belong in any discussion of the Ken Lay case. We will have none of that here. My discussion will be based exclusively on the law and facts of the case. I hope you enjoy this feature.