Enron Jurors Talk About Experience

Enron Jury
Former Enron executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling are guilty of multiple counts against them. Eight women, four men and four alternates spent 15 weeks hearing testimony. The twelve jurors spent another six days in deliberations. After the verdict was read the jurors spoke about their experience and decision. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports.

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About half of the jurors chose to speak with the media, although they all requested no photography in the room. The jurors spent 16 weeks together, hearing one of the largest corporate fraud cases on record. Kathy Harrison is an elementary teacher who says before the trial she didn't know anything about Enron.

"This is undoubtably [sic] the most challenging and heart-wrenching experience I've ever had in my life."

The jurors were visibly relieved to be done with the trial. They laughed and whispered to one another during the media briefing. Many of them said the group has bonded to the point of deep and lasting friendships. Jury Forewoman Deborah Smith says the decision was based on fact, not emotion, and there was never a rush to get to a decision.

"We didn't know when we came in here and we hit some issues and we clipped right along and then we hit some brick walls, we really did. But like I said, the timeline was not the factor."

The jurors said they went over the evidence and answered every count individually. They found Ken Lay guilty of all six charges against him. Skilling was convicted on 19 counts and acquitted on nine. Smith says they felt there wasn't enough evidence on those nine counts of insider trading.

"We did come back unanimous. But I will point out that the judge's instructions said 'not guilty equals not proven, it does not equal innocent.'"

Numerous witnesses testified. Don Martin says some had more credibility than others, but all of them factored into the decision, including testimony from former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow.

"Fastow was Fastow, I mean we knew where he was coming from, we could tell that pretty much. So it was -- we kind of discounted some of it but it was -- you know, we listened to all the testimony and we weighed it in our minds whether it was credible."

One thing that resonated with the jury was the argument that Lay and Skilling didn't know about the illegal accounting practices at Enron. Carolyn Kauchera says that didn't ring true.

"Those of us that have full-time jobs, we did our jobs at night when we went home so tired that we hardly knew who we were. We did it on the weekends, we did it on the holidays, we would leave here sometimes from court and go to work. We were responsible, we were always accountable and we always had to find a way to circle back around and tie up the loose ends. And I think those employees were entitled to the same thing."

The jurors all agreed that attorneys for both sides presented their cases well and did an excellent job of educating them on the details of the case. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

Listen to the 48 minute press conference with the jury after the verdict was announced.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...