Simeon Timothy "Sim" Lake III (born July 4, 1944, Chicago, Illinois) is an American judge and attorney who has served on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas since 1988. His notable trials include the trial of Enron Chairman Ken Lay and former Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling.
Lake graduated from Texas A&M University in 1966 and was number one in his class at the University of Texas School of Law in 1969 . He served in U.S. Army from 1970 to 1971 as a Judge Advocate General's Corps prosecutor in Vietnam, then worked at the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP in Houston, Texas through most of 1972 to the late 1980s. He was appointed as a judge on the U.S. District Court's Southern District of Texas in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.
Besides the Enron cases, Lake has participated in other notable cases:
- In 2004, he ordered the Bible removed from a display on the grounds of the Harris County Civil Courthouse.
- In 1999, he ordered the Houston Independent School District to pay private school tuition for a disabled student it could not accommodate.
- In 1997, he directed an acquittal and mistrial of Stanislaw Burzynski on three dozen counts of fraud after a jury deadlocked on the fate of the doctor who used unproven therapies.
On October 23, 2006 Lake sentenced Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling to the minimum possible sentence under federal guidelines, 24 years, with significantly less time actually expected to be served by Skilling. Lake imposed this rather lenient sentence despite federal laws that would have allowed for significantly longer sentences to act as a deterrent for other white collar criminals.
He later vacated all convictions of Ken Lay, following Lay's death, allowing Lay's family to keep all Lay's accumulated wealth, a ruling later upheld despite the public's attempt to recover its multibillion-dollar losses..
In April 2013, Judge Lake ruled that videos showing cruelty to animals are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution despite laws against cruelty to animals and evidence that cruelty to animals can be a precursor to cruelty to human beings as well as murder. A petition has been launched to reverse this ruling.
- "From Animal Cruelty to Serial Murder: Applying the Graduation Hypothesis". sagepub.com. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- Video on YouTube
- Sim Lake at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
Ross N. Sterling
|Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas