It’s just a white-collar crime trial. But in many ways, the long-awaited trial of former Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth Lay and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling is much more than a routine criminal case important only to the defendants and a handful of lawyers trying it.

It may not be the single most important trial to ever take place in the Bob Casey U.S. Courthouse in downtown Houston, but the significance of the big event goes far beyond the future of Lay and Skilling, who face fraud and conspiracy charges.