IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Jury selection starts in Stewart trial

Hundreds of potential jurors in the Martha Stewart trial filed into a federal courthouse Tuesday to fill out questionnaires drawn up by prosecutors and the homemaking maven’s defense team.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Hundreds of potential jurors for Martha Stewart’s securities fraud trial filed into a federal courthouse Tuesday to fill out questionnaires for the formal beginning of jury selection.

Lawyers on both sides will receive hundreds of completed questionnaires Wednesday, then spend two weeks reviewing them before interviewing some jurors in person on Jan. 20. Opening arguments should come several days after that.

The questionnaire was not made public, and U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum ordered the media not to speak to potential jurors, citing the need for an unbiased jury. Reporters were barred from the courtroom Tuesday, but were to be allowed in Jan. 20. The judge said she was acting at the request of both the prosecution and defense.

Stewart and her former stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, were not in court Tuesday.

The two are accused of concocting a false story about why Stewart sold nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems stock Dec. 27, 2001, a day before a negative government report sent its share price tumbling.

Prosecutors say the two were tipped that ImClone founder Sam Waksal was selling his shares. Stewart and Bacanovic claim they had an arrangement to sell ImClone when it dipped to $60 per share.

The government filed a new indictment Monday, making mostly cosmetic and typographical changes. No additional charges were contained in the new indictment.

One change was substituting the phrase “false and misleading” for “false” when referring to explanations Stewart gave investigators for her ImClone sale.

Michael Kulstad, a spokesman for prosecutors, declined to comment on the changes.

Stewart and Bacanovic will have to re-enter their pleas of innocent because of the new indictment, but it was not expected to delay the start of the trial.