- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — Women outnumber men eight to four on the jury that will decide Martha Stewart’s fate — a panel that includes a reverend, a man who lost money because of Enron’s collapse and a woman who says the government should move faster to prosecute corporate scandals.

The jury, culled by lawyers from a pool of hundreds, was seated yesterday to decide whether Mrs. Stewart lied to investigators about a well-timed stock sale in late 2001. Opening statements were set for this morning.

Many of the jurors told the judge in private interviews they had been exposed to some of the enormous pretrial publicity that has surrounded Mrs. Stewart’s prosecution, but assured her they could be impartial anyway.

“If you see a headline about the case, turn the page. Look at another story,” U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum told jurors. “If you hear something about the case, change the channel.”

Mrs. Stewart is accused of working with her stockbroker to concoct a story about why she sold 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems on Dec. 27, 2001 — just before it plunged on a negative government review of an ImClone cancer drug.

The government contends Mrs. Stewart was tipped that ImClone founder Sam Waksal was trying to dump his own shares. Mrs. Stewart and the broker, Peter Bacanovic, say they had a pre-existing agreement to sell the stock when it fell to $60 per share.

The jury includes a man who said he lost money in a mutual fund because the stocks in the fund were damaged by the collapse of Enron Corp. in 2001.

One juror said she believes poor people “often don’t have the right to as much justice as they would like to have.”

She also said she wished the government would move faster to prosecute the corporate scandals because “I think a lot of people are concerned that things have happened that aren’t being followed up.”

Another juror is a clergywoman who counsels married couples.

“So I am aware that there are two sides to everything, and you have to hear everything out,” the woman said, according to a transcript of the juror interviews, conducted in private by the judge last week.

One juror is a paralegal specialist who translates Italian and owns stock in Merrill Lynch & Co. — the brokerage where Mr. Bacanovic managed Mrs. Stewart’s account.

Six alternate jurors were selected — four men and two women.

In a defeat for Mrs. Stewart even before testimony gets under way, Judge Cedarbaum ruled yesterday that her attorney may not ask jurors to speculate why Mrs. Stewart was never charged with criminal insider trading.

Mrs. Stewart’s defense team also will not be allowed to argue that she is being prosecuted merely for asserting she was not guilty, or that the securities-fraud charge against her is an unusual application of the law.

The securities-fraud count accuses Mrs. Stewart of trying to prop up the stock of her own company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, by saying in 2002 that she had done nothing wrong and was cooperating with investigators.

The charges against Mrs. Stewart carry a prison term of 30 years, although federal sentencing guidelines would dramatically reduce the term if she were convicted.

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