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Skilling v. United States

United States Supreme Court
561 U.S. 358 (2010)



Jeffrey Skilling (plaintiff) was one of three executives at Enron Corporation indicted for manipulating financials to mislead the public about Enron’s profitability. Skilling moved to have his trial transferred from Houston to another venue, citing pretrial publicity that he argued had prejudiced potential jurors against him. The court denied his motion. The court mailed lengthy questionnaires drafted mostly by Skilling. Shortly before trial, one of Skilling’s co-defendants pled guilty. The court granted Skilling’s request for a continuance. Skilling then made a renewed motion to change venue because the questionnaires sent to jurors showed bias and the other executive’s guilty plea would lead to more bias. His motion was again denied. At trial, Skilling was found guilty of 19 counts. Skilling appealed on several grounds, including an argument that he did not receive a fair trial. The appellate court found that negative publicity about Enron created a presumption of juror bias. However, the court also found that the presumption of juror bias was rebutted by the government because a review of the district court’s voir dire showed that it was thorough and that Skilling had an impartial jury at his trial. Skilling petitioned the Supreme Court and the Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg. J.)

Dissent (Sotomayor, J.)

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