X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Martha Stewart’s attempt to win a new trial because of the alleged lies and omissions of one juror during jury selection was rejected Wednesday by a federal judge. Southern District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum said Stewart had failed to clear the “very high hurdle” needed to obtain a new trial. Stewart based her request on the acts of Chappell Hartridge, who became one of the more outspoken jurors after the trial. Stewart’s attorney, Robert Morvillo, charged that Hartridge deliberately omitted information or gave wrong answers on his jury questionnaire in response to inquiries about arrests and involvement with the justice system. Morvillo, of Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Silberberg, said Hartridge displayed bias toward Stewart and co-defendant Peter Bacanovic. The two were convicted in March on obstruction, conspiracy and other charges for concealing from investigators the reason that Stewart had sold her shares of ImClone Systems Inc. in 2001. The defense claimed Hartridge did not disclose that he was once arrested and arraigned for assault, that he and several family members had been sued, that his son was convicted of attempted robbery, that he had been accused of embezzlement while he served as a volunteer treasurer of a Little League, and that he had been fired from a job for wrongdoing. “It should be pointed out,” Judge Cedarbaum wrote, “that many of these allegations offered to support these claims amount to little more than hearsay, speculation, and in one instance, vague allegations made by a person who refused to identify himself.” The standard for determining whether a juror’s failure to respond accurately to questions has jeopardized the fairness of the trial, she said, was set by the U.S. Supreme Court in McDonough Power Equipment, Inc. v. Greenwood, 464 U.S. 548. (1984). The Supreme Court said a party must first show that a “juror failed to answer honestly a material question” and then show that a “correct response would have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause.” “The motives for concealing information may vary, but only those reasons that affect a juror’s impartiality can truly be said to affect the fairness of the trial,” the Court said. Cedarbaum wrote, “The difficulty of this showing is evident from the fact that no verdict in the Second Circuit has been overturned on the basis of juror nondisclosure under the McDonough test,” and, in “only one case” has the circuit “found grounds to remand a case for an inquiry into possible juror nondisclosure.” In that case, United States v. Colombo, 869 F.2d 149, (2d Cir. 1989), the defense presented the affidavit of one juror who alleged that another intentionally withheld from the defense the fact that her brother-in-law was a government attorney to make sure she remained on the panel. The circuit remanded the case, saying that, if the information were true “the juror’s motive in lying on the voir dire was precisely to prevent defense counsel … from acting on the information the juror believed might lead to her dismissal from the case.” “In other words,” Cedarbaum said Wednesday, “an inference of bias was permissibly drawn from the juror’s stated wish to remain on the panel because the information she withheld betrayed her partiality toward the government.” In the case of Hartridge, Cedarbaum noted that there were ambiguities in the language of the questions posed to the jurors. She said Hartridge might have believed that his arrest and arraignment on charges of assaulting a former girlfriend, which he failed to disclose in response to questions about whether he had ever been charged with a crime or ever been in court, should not have been included in his answer because the charges were dropped and the record was sealed. “But even if Hartridge deliberately concealed his arrest and arraignment, defendants have not shown that these facts would have provided a sufficient basis for a challenge for cause,” the judge said. Hartridge made a number of post-trial statements to the press. He said Stewart’s conviction was a victory for the “little guy,” for example. Morvillo said the statements showed a class bias and a desire to use Stewart as a scapegoat for losses suffered by small investors with the collapse of the stock market and revelations of corporate malfeasance. Cedarbaum disagreed. “That Hartridge spoke of the verdict’s broader message does not reveal an agenda to punish the wealthy and powerful — he was very likely responding to questions that invited him to speculate about the impact of the verdict,” she said, adding that the defendants “have not offered any evidence that Hartridge possessed a negative attitude toward Stewart before he heard the evidence presented in this case.” Wednesday’s decision is likely to stand, according to a litigator who is a student of juries. Mark C. Zauderer of Piper Rudnick said that while “it is never possible to predict with certainty what an appeals court will do, this decision is virtually bulletproof.” “What underlies all of the law in this area is that courts don’t like to see jury verdicts upset unless it is quite clear that something infected the neutral decision-making process,” said Zauderer, who chairs the state Commission on the Jury. “I think this case is unlikely to catch the attention of the appeals court in terms of a miscarriage of justice under existing standards.” Stewart and Bacanovic are scheduled to be sentenced June 17. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen Patton Seymour, Michael Schachter and William Burck represent the government. David Apfel and Richard Strassberg of Goodwin Procter represent Bacanovic.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.