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Yeager v. United States

United States Supreme Court
557 U.S. 110 (2009)


Facts

Yeager (defendant) was senior vice president of a division of Enron Corporation. This subdivision was highly touted as a “core” Enron business and major part of its business strategy. At the annual equity analyst conference on January 20, 2000, Yeager and others allegedly made misleading comments about the value and performance of the Enron subdivision. The next day, the price of Enron stock jumped from $54 to $67, reaching $72 the day after. When the stock price hit $72, Yeager sold 100,000 shares, and during the next several months he sold another 600,000, netting $19 million in personal profits. The Enron subdivision he headed later turned out to be a sham. Yeager was charged with 126 counts of five federal offenses. The government’s theory was that Yeager, in collusion with others, purposely deceived the public about the subdivision in order to inflate the stock price and to enrich himself. Of the counts, the ones at issue can be grouped into two main categories: the “fraud counts” and the “insider trading counts.” The jury acquitted Yeager on the fraud counts but failed to reach a verdict on the insider trading counts. The court entered judgment on the acquittals but declared a mistrial on the hung counts. The government, using a refined prosecution strategy, recharged Yeager on some of the insider trading counts. Yeager moved to dismiss all counts in the new indictment because he claimed the acquittals on the fraud counts precluded the government from retrying him on the insider trading counts. The district court denied the motion. After independently reviewing the record, the court of appeals concluded that a “truly rational jury,” having decided that Yeager did not have any insider information, would have acquitted him on those counts, but it did not. The court of appeals decided to consider the hung counts along with the acquittals and decided that it was impossible “to decide with any certainty what the jury necessarily determined.” The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Scalia, J.)

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