Judge Refuses Andersen's Request for New Trial

U.S. District Court Judge Melinda Harmon, who presided over Andersen's obstruction of justice trial earlier this year, has upheld Andersen's guilty verdict, denying the firm the chance for a new trial.

Andersen's lawyers had argued that there was insufficient evidence to convict the former Big Five accounting firm and that jurors based their verdict on actions that were not criminal in nature.

The Department of Justice argued at trial that Andersen was guilty of obstruction of justice due to the unauthorized destruction of Enron audit related documents when the firm knew a federal investigation was pending. After the trial ended in June, six jurors reported that the jury rejected the government's allegations of document destruction and instead voted to convict Andersen because they agreed that an in-house attorney corruptly persuaded an audit partner to alter a memo. The reference was to a memo prepared by Andersen in-house attorney Nancy Temple.

In its motion for a retrial, Andersen argued that the guilty verdict should not stand because the Department of Justice did not charge the firm with obstruction of justice in relation to the Temple memo.

Judge Harmon ruled that Andersen failed to prove its point that it was convicted based on a position not argued by the prosecution. In addition, the judged denied Andersen's claim that there was insufficient evidence for a conviction.

Andersen is scheduled to be sentenced on October 16. After sentencing, the firm will be free to appeal its verdict to a higher court. The firm is already planning its appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

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