Criminal Procedure

5th Circuit OKs Super-Long Enron Brief

  • Print

Ordinarily, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals looks with “great disfavor,” according to its own rules, on long-winded briefs.

But the appellate court should make an exception in the unusually complex case of former Enron Corp. CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s appeal of his conviction in a securities fraud case, his lawyer argues. Daniel Petrocelli filed a 14-page motion (PDF) seeking permission to file a 239-page brief (PDF) in Skilling’s appeal. It included almost 60,000 words; the normal limit is 14,000, as the Wall Street Journal Law Blog has previously noted. (The newspaper also supplied copies of the court documents.)

Although reader opinion was divided about whether the court should hold the line on its usual word limit, the 5th Circuit ruled in favor of verbosity. It issued an order saying that Skilling’s counsel could file a 58,922-word brief—which is exactly the length of the draft filing. Plus, the government can do the same, wrote Judge Patrick Higginbotham.

“This is so exciting we can hardly stand it,” WSJ Law Blog reports. “Stay tuned!”

Skilling is seeking a new trial, arguing that his noncriminal behavior was unjustly criminalized in a fundamentally flawed trial, as discussed in an earlier post.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.