The Martha Stewart defense team has sunk to an all-time low -- juror character assassination.
It seems that Martha is now saying she should get a brand spankin' new trial because one of the jurors wasn't entirely truthful on his jury selection form.
Let's see. Martha's lawyers say he failed to disclose he had been briefly jailed for throwing a statue at a girlfriend (charges dropped), had embezzled money from a Little League team (never reported to police) and had been sued three times (no details provided by the Stewart team). They used private investigators to dig up this handful of mud.
Based on this, the Stewart team skewered the juror, saying in court filings that he "is a man with a checkered history." They say that had they only known the true story of the juror's past, they would have struck him from the jury.
I hope the court sanctions the lawyers for filing such drivel. Fortunately, courts rarely order new trials for this sort of thing -- you probably couldn't win a new trial unless you found out something *serious,* like the juror lost his life savings when Imclone crashed and has been stalking Martha for months and sending her death threats.
I'm not impressed with Martha's lawyers or this sort of lawyering.
From the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40648-2004Mar31.html
NEW YORK, March 31 -- Martha Stewart asked to have her felony convictions overturned and a new trial ordered, arguing that the most outspoken member of the jury that convicted her had concealed previous brushes with the court system, including an arrest on domestic assault charges.
Stewart's lawyers wrote in a motion filed Wednesday that Chappell Hartridge lied in his sworn court questionnaire, failing to disclose that he had been briefly jailed for assaulting a former girlfriend and had been sued at least three times. The lawyers also alleged that former youth baseball league officials said that Hartridge embezzled money from the Kingsbridge Little League in the Bronx.
After Stewart's March 5 conviction on charges of conspiracy, obstruction and lying about a personal stock sale, Hartridge, 47, became the public face of the jury, appearing on camera and speaking freely to the media about the verdict. He said then that he viewed the conviction as "victory for the little guy" who takes the losses in the stock market while well-connected insiders profit at his expense.
"Hartridge is a man with a checkered history, who deliberately concealed his prior experiences with the legal system so that he could empower the 'little man' and profit from the process. He appears to have committed perjury to gain access to a case in which he would judge whether other defendants made intentional false statements," Stewart's attorney Robert G. Morvillo wrote in the motion asking for a new trial.
He urged U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum to overturn the verdict or, at a minimum, to order an evidentiary hearing into the allegations.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan, which prosecuted Stewart, declined to comment on the motion.
A woman answering the phone at Hartridge's home said he was not there and then said Hartridge "has no criminal record" and "he was never convicted" of the assault charge. She would not give her name and declined to comment further.
Hartridge's many interviews apparently led almost directly to the motion for a new trial. According to the court filings, an officer of the Kingsbridge Little League contacted Morvillo's office with the allegations about the embezzlement just one day after the verdict. According to the filings, Little League officers told Morvillo's private investigator that while Hartridge, who then worked at Citibank, was the group's treasurer, he circumvented rules requiring two signatures on league checks and wrote checks to himself and to a finance company to cover his car payments. The Little League officers said they had not contacted law enforcement or taken other actions against Hartridge.
Stewart's legal team also tracked down Gail Outlaw, who said in a sworn affidavit that she lived with Hartridge for four months in 1997 and that he physically abused her. She said that she had him arrested after he threw a statue of an elephant at her but that she then dropped criminal charges.
Stewart's lawyers allege that Hartridge would have been struck from the jury if he had disclosed those issues to the court. As a result, his inclusion on the panel violated Stewart's constitutional right to an impartial and unbiased jury. Stewart and her former broker Peter E. Bacanovic were convicted after five weeks of testimony that focused on whether they lied to authorities about the true reason she sold 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. stock in December 2001 after being told that the company's founder was selling his shares. She is facing an estimated 10 to 16 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.
Former federal prosecutor Seth Farber, who is not connected to either side of the case, said judges rarely grant motions for a new trial based on a juror's failure to be entirely truthful during the selection process.
"Part of the reasons these things are such long shots is that the legal system tries to discourage the sort of rummaging through the lives of jurors for dirt that has obviously gone on here," Farber said. Still, he said, "there's no downside to them in doing it."