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Martha Stewart, trying to clear her tarnished name even as she serves a prison term, claims in her appeal that her trial was tainted by “a barrage” of unfair suggestions that she was charged with insider trading. Lawyers for the celebrity homemaker argued in papers made public Thursday that government prosecutors, unchecked by the trial judge, confused jurors about the charges against Stewart. “Martha Stewart was never charged with insider trading,” the lawyers wrote, urging a federal appeals court to overturn her conviction. “But a barrage of pretrial leaks and in-court accusations left the indelible impression that she was guilty of that offense.” Stewart was charged only with deceiving investigators, not with insider trading. But the appeals brief argues that prosecutors and the trial judge kept the jury from understanding the difference. Prosecutors told jurors that Stewart had received a “secret tip” about her ImClone Systems Inc. stock just before she sold in December 2001, and said the case was about “cheating investors in the stock market.” The brief says prosecutors unfairly linked Stewart and ImClone founder Sam Waksal. Waksal pleaded guilty to insider trading, admitting he sold ImClone because he knew about a forthcoming negative report about the company. The papers were filed as new details emerged about Stewart’s daily life at the minimum-security federal women’s prison in rural Alderson, W. Va., her home until early March. Walter Dellinger, the lawyer leading the appeal, said on NBC’s “Today” that Stewart is exploring “innovative ways to do microwave cooking” with her fellow inmates. He also said she spends up to three hours a night writing on a typewriter. Dellinger said he did not know what she is writing, but Stewart has hinted she may write a book about her experience with federal law enforcement. “She’s making the best of what’s necessarily a difficult situation,” Dellinger said. “I don’t think she knew what to expect, but she’s certainly been very pleased about it.” Since she reported to prison Oct. 8, Stewart has posted at least one letter on her personal-defense Web site saying that she is being treated well in prison. She also says fans have sent her thousands of letters at Alderson, some including gifts and money. Because gifts must be returned by prison officials, Stewart has asked fans to donate to the American Cancer Society instead. Stewart and her former stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, were each sentenced to five months in prison followed by five months of house arrest. Stewart is due to be released from prison in early March, and it is unlikely the appeals court will hear the appeal — much less decide it — by then. The appeal is more about clearing Stewart’s name, and about lifting the cloud of scandal that has hung over her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., since the ImClone story broke in mid-2002. Bacanovic and Stewart were both given the option of staying out of prison while they appealed. Stewart elected to begin doing her time, while Bacanovic remains free. The former Merrill Lynch & Co. stockbroker has also asked the appeals court to overturn his conviction. He argued that the judge erred by not separating his case from Stewart’s. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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