The jury has spoken in the Enron case. While I did not follow it closely, I did read bits of the defendants' testimony. Each of them at one time or another showed the jury a quality in a part of their personalities that is more than deadly in a jury trial. The quality? Arrogance.
Jeff Skilling betrayed it in his attitude with his cross examiner, a relatively young Assistant US Attorney. Skilling made it clear that this young man's grasp of the business concepts used at Enron was woefully inadequate. But if Skilling was so damn smart, a juror might plausibly ask, why did Enron sink so fast with him at the helm? Irrelevant to the case, but highly relevant to turning a potentially sympathetic jury into assistant prosecutors.
Ken Lay, on the other hand, betrayed an imperious impatience with his own counsel during direct, becoming irritated when he momentarily lost his train of thought and could not grasp the gist of the question. Lay clearly wished to maintain his lordly command of the proceedings. Yet he was a defendant and his attorney was valiantly trying to help him. Again, a small point, but maybe a turning point.
This case was difficult enough for the defense. The public generally wants someone to be legally responsible for a corporat failure of the magnitude of the Enron debacle. This seems to be par for the course. The defense must find a way to turn the jury's sympathies to its client in some way or it is toast. When the defendants themselves become unsympathetic as people, the defense becomes burnt toast. Bitter and charred.
From today's Lectionary
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