Kenneth Lay is dead
. He was 64, and apparently collapsed of a heart attack.
Something about this that makes you go "Hmmmmm. . . ." He was due to be sentenced in October; an appeal from his conviction was apparently pending at the time his death. On his blog
, law professor Peter J. Henning cites Federal precedents that say that "(i)t is well established in this circuit that the death of a criminal defendant pending an appeal of his or her case abates, ab initio, the entire criminal proceeding." United States v. Asset
, 990 F.2d 208 (5th Cir. 1993). In a recent Fifth Circuit decision, United States v. Estate of Parsons
, 367 F.3d 409 (5th Cir. 2004), the court explained that "the appeal does not just disappear, and the case is not merely dismissed. Instead, everything associated with the case is extinguished, leaving the defendant as if he had never been indicted or convicted."
I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility that Lay was persuaded by legal advice to do the honourable thing for a fellow in his situation. I also don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility that his death may be a hoax. No word as far as I know as to whether an autopsy will be performed, or what measures will be taken to secure the identity of the corpse. It would appear that, at least under the 5th Circuit's rules, his conviction is now a nullity; meaning that it no longer has any necessary effect in the various civil cases now pending, either. The Fifth Circuit, headquartered in New Orleans, covers Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.