Poll: Enron CEO's "Honest Services" Defense

Last Updated Apr 3, 2008 3:19 PM EDT

Today's poll deals with whether the concept of "honest services" can cover dishonorable acts.

Jeffrey K. Skilling, the former Enron chief executive who is serving a 24-year prison sentence after he was convicted on 19 counts of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading, and lying to auditors, is now trying to have his conviction overturned.

Why? Because he says he's an honest guy.

He took big risks, sure. He bent the rules, sure. But, his lawyer says, they were all done as "honest services" to benefit the company. And if they can prove this, his lawyer believes they can overturn his conviction, which rested on prosecutors' contentions that he deprived Enron of his honest services by putting his own interest ahead of the company and its shareholders, according to the New York Times.

According to his lawyer, Skilling may have urged risky moves, and those moves may have been unwise, but he was always acting in what he thought were the company's best interests. Apparently, this "honest services" defense has already been enough to overturn several Enron-related convictions. But the whole things sounds a bit squishy to me, and so I ask:[poll id=32]Have some thoughts on Skilling and his legal argument? Leave them in our comments section.
Have a workplace-ethics dilemma you'd like to see in this poll? Email wherestheline (at) gmail.com

  • William Baker

    William Baker is a freelance writer living in Cambridge, MA. His work has appeared in Popular Science, the Boston Globe Magazine, the New York Daily News, Boston Magazine, The Weekly Dig and a bunch of other places (including Field & Stream, though he doesn't hunt and can't really fish). He is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe, where he writes the weekly column, "Meeting the Minds." He holds a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is at work on his first book.