Case Brief

Running head: A CASE BRIEF 1
A Case Brief
A Case Brief
Honest services fraud cases involve a level of corruption depicted by the defendant.
These cases are characterized by bribery or extortion on the part of the accused that was
otherwise expected to deliver services without expecting any rewards. This type of crime has
seen lawmakers battle to distinguish between its substantiality in the private and public
sectors (Tucker & Lampson, 2011). However, the Court arrived at a decision that the statute
would incorporate fraudulent schemes that deprive another party of their deserved services if
they cannot offer bribes and other enticements which will be supplied by a third party that has
not been duped. Consider the case that had Jeffery Skilling as the petitioner and the United
States as the respondent.
Elements of the Crime
The Skilling v. the United States case was held in the US Capitol building. The
petitioner’s advocate was Sri Srinivasan while that for the respondent was the Deputy
Solicitor General, Department of Justice (Skilling v. United States. (n.d.). The petitioners
claimed that Skilling, who was the former chief executive officer of Enron, lied to investors
about the company’s financial status. At that time, Enron was an energy and commodities
company that was ranked seventh by revenue-grossing. Shortly after Jeffery Skilling was
appointed CEO, the company was declared bankrupt. Its stocks’ value depreciated
The prosecution argued that Jeffery was well aware of the company’s financial
situation and instead of notifying investors, he covered up the case. The company was in the
habit of reporting its financial results. However, the prosecution stated that these figures were
doctored, and they represented a false picture of the firm. Skilling was at the forefront of
manipulation since as the company’s chief executive officer, he authorized these financial
reports. Additionally, he made false statements concerning the firm’s finances.
All these allegations were substantiated with hard evidence. The government
presented, before the Court, improperly manipulated accounting rules. These ensured that
losses that were incurred by the less profitable departments appeared in, the most cost-
effective ones to cover up for their weakness. To a layman, these figures represented a
profitable organization that was worthy of competing with companies that posted high stock
prices. The government also declared that the defendant, with aid from some of his
colleagues, created third party shell companies (Skilling v. United States. (n.d.). These were
vital in their quest for masquerading Enron’s stalemate. The prosecution, therefore, wanted
the court to find Skilling guilty of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, alongside
other violations such as insider trading, securities fraud, and making false representations to
Defenses Claimed by the Defense
In his case, Jeffery Skilling denied the illegality of his actions. According to him, he
had acted in the company’s best interests as was required of him. As Enron’s chief executive
officer one of his duties was to be a good ambassador for his corporation. The defense,
therefore, argued that his actions were in line with his role as an employee. It is important to
note that Skilling accepted that he committed fraud. His protests were directed at his reasons
for having perpetrated the fraud.
Additionally, Skilling’s defense team claimed that the statements presented before the
Court were inadmissible. He claimed that they were taken out of context and that they should
not be used against him in that particular case. He acknowledged that the false financial
statements were indeed in existence, but they should not be used to substantiate his
involvement in honest services fraud. Since the prosecution also used his speech against him,
the defense disapproved of the context of which he was quoted (Skilling v. United States.
(n.d.). The latter claimed that the statements that Skilling made by word of mouth were also
taken out of context.
Another defense mechanism was a dismissal of the government’s witnesses. The
defense argued that there was no way the Court could ascertain the credibility of the
witnesses. The surety that they were not witch-hunting was at stake. For that reason, the
witnesses together with their testimonies should have been inadmissible in court since they
might as well have ill motives against the defendant. He also argued that the company’s
collapse, months after his appointment as the chief executive officer, was a mere coincidence
and that the witnesses could not prove his direct involvement in it being declared bankrupt.
These counter-arguments provided by the defense bore some fruits despite Jeffery’s protests
that they were biased. The defendant argued that the case received the negative publicity that
affected the jury and led them to make prejudicial decisions. For that reason, he wanted the
case’s venue to be changed, a request that was later denied by the court. Eventually, Jeffery
Skilling was found guilty of nineteen counts after four months of trial. This ruling made him
file a petition.
Constitutional Protection Issues
One constitutional provision that was followed to the latter, in this case, was the right
to fair trial (Ritchie & JusticeLearning, 2006). The defendant claimed that he would face a
biased jury in Houston and therefore wanted the court to relocate the matter to a neutral
place. His allegations were accorded the desired seriousness as is evident when the Court
made a follow up on the complaints since the constitution protected Jeffery and he had every
right to a free and fair trial. Although the co-accused had already received their verdicts in
other courts, Jeffery Skilling’s motion was considered since the tribunal was intent on
delivering a fair judgment which can only result from a fair trial. For that matter, the Court
established that most of Houston’s residents did not recognize Enron’s employees. The latter
was therefore not in a position to make prejudicial conclusions due to the publicity that the
case was attracting.
Additionally, the Court followed the correct procedure, as stipulated in the
constitution, when appointing the jury (Ritchie & JusticeLearning, 2006). A pool of potential
jurors was presented with a questionnaire that sought to clarify factors such as their political
affiliations, professional background, and relationship with Enron Company, among others.
In it, they provided answers that were later used to gauge individual possibilities for
impartiality or otherwise. Additionally, other qualifying factors were considered based on the
potential jurors’ responses. Eventually, jurors were vetted by the Court and counsel and those
who were deemed capable of making a judgment based on evidence provided in Court were
selected. These efforts by the tribunal clearly indicate that Jeffery’s constitutional concerns
were satisfactorily addressed.
After the ruling, the defendant exercised his constitutional right by filing a petition
(Ritchie & JusticeLearning, 2006). According to the constitution, an individual is allowed to
protest court decisions through petitions. Jeffery thought that the tribunal ruling was unfair
since according to him, his actions did not depict honest services wire fraud. The defendant
argued that Jeffery’s deeds were meant to protect Enron since he did not prioritize his
personal interests. However, his petition was rejected, and the Court cited that the jury was
mandated to make that decision. One can comfortably state that Jeffery Skilling underwent a
free and fair trial. He enjoyed his constitutional rights and was therefore accorded the
sentence that he deserved.
Case Brief
Case Title: Skilling v. the United States (2010)
Facts of the Case: Jeffery Skilling, a former chief executive officer of Enron Corporation,
was convicted of securities fraud, and conspiracy alongside other violations such as insider
trading, and making false representations to auditors by a Texas federal district court. There
was a direct appeal by Skillet to the United States Court of Appeal.
Issues: Does the “Honest Services” Fraud law as laid down by the legislature demand that
the government proves without a reasonable doubt the defendant’s conduct as intending to
achieve “private gain”? If it does not, is the Section 1346 that dictates the latter
unconstitutionally vague?
Should the government rebut the presumption of prejudice based on the concerns by the
defendant that the jury may be prejudicial because of widespread community impact caused
by elements such as the media on his alleged conduct? If so, is the government obligated to
prove beyond reasonable doubt that any such bodies compromised no juror?
Holding (the final decision): Yes. The “Honest Services” demands that the government
bears the burden of proof in determining the defendant’s conduct as intending to achieve
private gain. Section 1346 is adequately confined to cover bribery and kickback schemes.
No. The government should not repulse the presumption of prejudice based on the concerns
by the defendant that the jury may be prejudicial based on any impacts, and caused by
whichever elements. The government is obligated to prove beyond reasonable doubt that no
juror was compromised.
Reasoning: (Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel A. Alito, and Sonia Sotomayor)
A. Rule: The Sixth Amendment requires that “no biased juror is seated at trial”.
The interest to have an impartial jury informs this Amendment.
B. Application: This rule protects Jeffery Skilling, and he rightfully claimed his
right to fair trial devoid of prejudicial thoughts. For that reason, the court had to vet the
potential jurors to come up with a competent team.
Concurrence 1: (Antonin): the Court has a right to hold jury impartiality challenges.
Concurrence 2: (Samuel): no partial juror should be seated at a trial according to the
Sixth Amendment.
Dissent 1: (Sonia): the defendant did not receive a fair trial since Houston’s
environment was too hostile to allow him this right.
Rule: The Fifth Circuit’s decision concerning the “honest services fraud” applied to Jeffery
Skilling’s case.
A. Application: Jeffery Skilling was guilty of committing the honest services fraud
according to Section 1346 (Ritchie & JusticeLearning, 2006).
Concurrence 1: (Sonia): the Court’s resolution of Section 1346 was in order. It
adequately applied to Mr. Skillet’s case.
Dissent 1: (Antonin): the Fifth Circuit’s decision requires reversal, but on different
ground. Section 1346 is impermissibly vague thus violates the constitution.
Analysis: The facts of the case meet the legalities for prosecution. For one to be declared
guilty of any crime, sufficient evidence must be provided to them. In Jeffery’s case, the
government met this requirement. Additionally, the Court ensured that his case was presented
to an unbiased jury and that all decisions were supported by constitutional laws (Ritchie &
JusticeLearning, 2006).
My Judgment
In my opinion, Jeffery Skilling was guilty of the charges filed against him. Most especially,
he committed the honest services fraud. As the company’s chief executive officer, it is hard
to convince an observer that he had no knowledge whatsoever that the firm was collapsing. It
also does not make sense for him to give financial statements and later claim that they were
not meant to be. It is his duty to follow up on the corporation’s activities to recognize any
anomalies. Skilling should have been the whistleblower in this case, but he willfully chose to
be the conspirator and participated in fraudulent activities. I, therefore, fully agree with the
trial’s outcome.
In a nutshell, lawmakers have experienced difficulties in determining the substantiality of
honest services fraud. One victim of such a case was Jeffery Skilling, who battled against the
United States after the collapse of Enron Corporation where he was the CEO. In this court
case, like any other, the petitioner was armed with incriminating evidence against the
defendant, and this saw to it that the government won the case. The defendant did not go
down without a fight, and his counterarguments earned him few charges (Tucker & Lampson,
2011). Additionally, Jeffery was well versed with his constitutional rights since he demanded
to face an unbiased jury. The Court was prudent enough to act lawfully, and the eventuality
was a free and fair trial.
Ritchie, D. A., & (2006). Our Constitution. Oxford: Oxford University
Skilling v. United States. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved May 3, 2016, from
Tucker, V., & Lampson, M. (2011). Finding the answers to legal questions: A how-to-do-it
manual. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

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