Saturday, April 10, 2004

Crazy Like A Fox?

Susan, of Suburban Guerrilla, shares a fascinating new twist on the Enron saga:
Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling was taken to a hospital early Friday after several people called police saying he was pulling on their clothes and accusing them of being FBI agents, a police source told The Associated Press.

Police found Skilling at 4 a.m. at the corner of Park Avenue and East 73rd Street and determined he might be an "emotionally disturbed person," said the source, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Police did not charge Skilling with a crime. They took him to New York Presbyterian Hospital for observation. Hospital officials did not immediately return calls for comment.
Susan, as well as Oliver Willis, thinks this is a defense setup for Skilling's upcoming trial. But it's hard to see how that would work.

It can't possibly be a setup for an insanity defense. A verdict of "not guilty by reason of insanity" requires the defense to prove that the defendant was crazy at the time of the crime. If the defendant was sane at the time of the crime, but is crazy at the time of the trial, that leads to a judgment that the defendant is "incompetent to stand trial." What happens then? The defendant is committed to a mental hospital until he or she becomes (legally) sane, at which point they go on with the trial.

There's no way in the world that they could convincingly argue that Skilling was psychotic at the time of the crime. All jokes to the contrary aside, if the CEO of a major corporation had completely lost touch with reality, people would notice. And it's hard to imagine how someone who was too psychotic to know right from wrong would have the skill to commit a white-collar crime. So there's no way that Skilling could actually get off on an insanity defense. Nor does it make sense for him to try to feign incompetency to stand trial, because all that would get him is an indefinite delay - during which he would be imprisoned. Feigning incompetency is only a good deal if you're likely to be executed if convicted.

So what do I think this is? According to the Yahoo story: "Skilling was described as being intoxicated and highly uncooperative when he was approached by police." I bet that's all it is.