It was like a scenario straight out of John Grisham’s “The Runaway Jury.” A rogue juror lies about her background and conceals her clear biases in order to serve, and help convict, four white collar defendants accused of devising a $130 million fraudulent tax shelter scheme. As a result, the defendants, who include former Jenkins & Gilchrist partner Paul Daugerdas, were each looking at over 20 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines. But as the defense lawyers learned about juror Catherine Conrad’s lies and omissions during jury selection last year, they were handed a lifeline, and Daugerdas’ lawyer, Jenner & Block partner Chris Gair, grabbed it. Gair took the lead penning the brief seeking a new trial for all the defendants, and handled the first of two cross examinations of Conrad during a heated February hearing to determine if the verdict would stand. On Monday his efforts paid off as U.S. District Judge William Pauley III determined that Conrad’s actions tainted the verdict. Pauley ordered new trials for three of the defendants: Daugerdas, former Jenkins & Gilchrist partner Donna Guerin, and BDO Seidman’s former chief executive Denis Field. The three had been convicted of tax evasion, mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy. A fourth defendant, banker David Parse of Deutsche Bank, was deemed to have waived his objection because his lawyers at Brune & Richard had failed to disclose to the court that they were investigating Conrad before the verdict. Pauley’s scathing 64-page opinion excoriated Conrad for presenting herself “as an entirely different person” who “lied about virtually every detail of her life, including mundane subjects like her travel habits,” and ruining a three-month trial that produced 9,200 pages of testimony from forty-one witnesses. Conrad had misrepresented herself as a stay-at-home wife whose highest level of education was a college degree when, in actuality, she was an attorney who had been suspended from the bar due to concerns ranging from alcoholism to mental instability. At the hearing, Pauley called Conrad a “monstrous liar” and urged the government to prosecute her for perjury. Additionally, the juror had a clear axe to grind with the defendants. According to Gair, he learned of Conrad’s possible bias a few months after the verdict, when the government disclosed that Conrad had sent a fawning letter to the prosecutors praising them for a job well done. At the hearing in February, Gair got Conrad to admit that she hated lawyers and that the defendants were crooks who belonged in jail. Under cross-examination, Conrad even reasoned that the defendants would want “crooks” on the jury because they themselves were “crooks.” Conrad’s counsel, Bobbi Sternheim, declined to comment.
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