Man Without Qualities

Monday, June 10, 2002

As Time Goes By In Houston

The Wall Street Journal (link requires paid subscription) today reports, in part, that:

"The ... Andersen ... jury deciding the accounting firm's fate in criminal proceedings went back to their hotel Monday evening without delivering a verdict."


"Andersen faces a felony charge of obstruction of justice, accused of trying to block an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into Enron Corp. (ENRNQ) financial disclosures by destroying documents related to the accounting firm's audits."

"It's clear they're deadlocked," said Robert Gordon, a jury consultant who has been watching the trial. Gordon added that a deadlocked panel doesn't necessarily mean that they can't eventually reach a verdict.

But, he said, the defense should be excited that deliberations have lumbered into a sixth day.

This report is the most recent indication that even the supposedly "slam dunk" charges of obstructing justice against Andersen - the easiest part of the Enron mess - are proving a lot harder to establish than the media or the government thought would be the case.

This Andersen trial was supposed to be a warm up for the vastly more complicated and difficult task of bringing fraud related charges against Enron, Andersen and their affiliates.

The Andersen jury now deliberating may still eke out an obstruction of justice conviction. But, even so, the people at the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission in charge of this matter have probably taken all the champagne bottles out of their office refrigerators by now. They’re probably not looking forward to those vastly more complex and difficult prosecutions after going through what was supposed to be a little romp in the park for the prosecutors.

Before the trial opened, the major media ran all those silly quotes from supposed “legal experts” who predicted that Andersen’s only chance was to hope that the jury would acquit against the law. Now, as prior Man Without Qualities posts have argued, it’s the prosecutors who may have been reduced to hoping that the jury will convict against the law.

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