Thursday, May 14, 2009

Houston's white-collar crime beat

Tom Kirkendall at Houston's Clear Thinkers has been a go-to source lately on white-collar crime coverage outta H-Town.

Discussing a Fifth Circuit opinion in Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling's case, Big Tom notes that, "Inasmuch as there is now a clear split between Fifth Circuit decisions and other circuit appellate courts on the scope of honest services wire-fraud, the issue appears ripe for Supreme Court consideration. Indeed, Skilling's petition notes Supreme Court Justice Scalia's recent observation about the need for the high court to take up the issue."

He also describes alleged prosecutorial misconduct in the Skilling case that brings to mind the Ted Stevens prosecutors withholding evidence. Tom writes:
After Skilling's conviction, the Skilling defense team discovered Fastow interview notes that the Enron Task Force had failed to disclose to the Skilling team prior to trial. Among other things, those notes revealed that Fastow had told the Task Force lawyers that he didn't think he had told Skilling about the Global Galactic agreement. The Fifth Circuit characterized the Task Force's non-disclosure as "troubling" in inviting Skilling to file a motion for new trial with the District Court.
HCT also discusses how Sir Allen Stanford's alleged role as a drug informer may have influenced prosecutorial decisions in that case.

Finally, I can only shake my head and wonder with Tom over Galveston federal district Judge Sam Kent's fall from grace, "How did it come to this?"


Soronel Haetir said...

One thing I would be interested in on the subject of filler photos would be to make a large computerized database of such. Create an algorithm to select photos from the DB based on the suspect photo in order to remove even unconcious bias from the filler selection process.

Either that or perhaps some method of automatically generating sketch artist type drawings from photos and have the witness select from a sample of such. I know that sounds backwards but I could see removing lighting details and such increasing accuracy. I wonder if tests on such a procedure have ever been tried.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Along those lines, Soronel, I started to blog recently and then it got left, unfinished, in my drafts folder, a piece on a proposal to shift to photos in street clothes to avoid prejudice, see here. That seem like a first-step homage to the kind of rethinking of filler photos that you're suggesting.

Soronel Haetir said...

Certainly there should be nothing distinctive about the clothing worn, although in that regard I would probably prefer simply phto-shopping all clothing out from the beginning.

Jewelry is a harder call than clothing though, not sure if that should be left visible or not. Especially jewelry that is more or less permanently affixed such as some types of studs etc.