HOUSTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Wednesday asked a judge to delay ruling on a request by lawyers for convicted Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay's estate to erase his convictions and dismiss the indictment against him because he died before he had appealed.

Lay was convicted of 10 counts of fraud, conspiracy and lying to banks in two separate cases on May 25. He died of heart disease July 5.

Lay's lawyers have said in a previous court filing that Lay's death "necessitates" erasing his convictions. They cited a 2004 ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found that a defendant's death pending appeal extinguished his entire case because he hadn't had a full opportunity to challenge the conviction and the government shouldn't be able to punish a dead defendant or his estate.

In a court filing Wednesday, federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Sim Lake to defer from making a ruling until Oct. 23, the previously scheduled sentencing date, so Congress can consider legislation the Justice Department submitted Tuesday that changes current federal law regarding such situations.

"Certain provisions of the (legislation) would be directly relevant to the situation presented by defendant Lay's death," prosecutors Sean Berkowitz and John Hueston wrote in their motion. "For example ... the (legislation) provides that the death of a defendant charged with a criminal offense shall not be the basis for abating or otherwise invalidating either a verdict returned or the underlying indictment."

The Justice Department would like to make the new legislation retroactive to July 1, four days before Lay died.