Supreme Court reverses conviction in Arthur Andersen case.

Author:Swartz, Nikki
Position:UP FRONT: News, Trends, & Analysis

In a unanimous ruling released on May 31, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm for destroying Enron Corp. documents before the energy company's collapse, saying that the jury instructions were "too vague and broad for jurors to determine correctly whether Andersen obstructed justice," according to an Associated Press report.

"The jury instructions here were flawed in important respects" Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court. "The jury instructions at issue simply failed to convey the requisite consciousness of wrongdoing. It is striking how little culpability the instructions required."

Acting Assistant Attorney General John C. Richter said in an Associated Press report that the Justice Department was disappointed with the decision and was considering whether to retry the case. The ruling is called a setback for the Bush administration, which tackled the former Big 5 accounting firm first in its efforts to prosecute white collar criminals following accounting scandals at several major corporations.

At issue in the case was whether...

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